U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   Vicki M. Boatwright

February 27, 1995                            or Diana M. Hawkins


Six hundred forty-four striped bass were tagged during a cruise in the Atlantic Ocean by scientists aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administation's (NOAA) research vessel "CHAPMAN" earlier this year in January. The tags, inserted through a small incision into the striper's abdomen, enable biologists to determine fish growth and migratory habitats and population measures such as survival and mortality.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources combined efforts for this year's striped bass study, the seventh cruise of its kind. The cruise is also supported by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the organization responsible for preparing the management plan for Atlantic Coast striped bass stocks.

Striped bass are anadromous fish, meaning they live in salt water and return once a year to fresh or nearly fresh water to spawn. After the fish grow to juvenile size, they migrate back to coastal areas and to the ocean, where they grow to maturity.

The cruise is coordinated annually by the Fish and Wildlife Service's South Atlantic Fisheries Resources Coordination Office headquartered in Morehead City, North Carolina. Results are used by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, with the assistance of the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, to manage stocks of Atlantic striped bass in accordance with the Fishery Management Plan and its amendments.

Aboard the NOAA's fisheries research vessel CHAPMAN, 6 biologists and 4 deck crew used a 65-foot trawl net on a 16-hour daily basis. After 59 sampling tows of 30 minutes or less, the team had captured 911 striped bass for tagging. In addition to the stripers, the team tagged 14 summer flounder which will help determine growth and migratory habits of this species. No Atlantic sturgeon were captured this year, in contrast to previous cruises during which as many as 20 have been tagged. "Levels of sturgeon have dropped so dramatically that harvesting them along most of the Atlantic Coast is prohibited," said Bill Cole, the Service's South Atlantic Fisheries Coordinator and cruise organizer.

Atlantic coastal migratory stocks of striped bass winter in the Atlantic Ocean between Cape Charles, Virginia and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Fish from Chesapeake Bay, the Hudson River and North Carolina's Albemarle Sound mingle as they seek to avoid extreme low temperatures. As temperatures increase with the approach of spring, they begin their annual migration to the spawning grounds of their native rivers. Stripers were once abundant off the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, but their numbers decreased steadily since the early 1970's until recently. Present indications are that the moratorium imposed in the Chesapeake Bay and more stringent harvest regulations have resulted in growth of the Chesapeake and Hudson River populations and that recovery is underway.


Release #95-13

1995 News Releases

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