Commerical landings of striped bass on the Atlantic coast of America were reviewed briefly for the period prior to 1930 and analyzed in some detail from 1930 to 1966. From the lowest level of barely over 1 million pounds in 1934, annual landings for the entire coast have increased ninefold at the present level.
Catch statistics and fluctuations in landings were analyzed according to regions and states. Chesapeake region, comprising Maryland and Virginia, landed two-thirds of the total catch. The fluctuations in Chesapeake landings were paralleled by Middle Atlantic and New England regions, but with a two-year lag. This was attributed to the fact that the main source of striped bass to all three regions was from the same Chesapeake stock. North Carolina, which is the sole contributor to South Atlantic region in striped landings, had its own distinctive fluctuation pattern.
Fishing gears used in catching striped bass vary from state to state. Handlines are the only gear that land striped bass for commercial market in Massachuestts. Floating traps land the major portion in Rhode Island. Haul seines are the mainstay in New York, as are otter trawls in New Jersey and fixed gillnets in Delaware. Fixed gillnets are also the most important gear in Maryland and North Carolina, although drift gillnets, pound nets, and haul seines contribute significantly to the fishery. In Virginia, pound nets, haul seines, and fixed gillnets each land about 30% of the total poundage.
Seasonal landing patterns differ from state to state. In Massachusetts, the striped bass fishery is primarily a summer fishery; in New York, a fall fishery; in New Jersey, a winter fishery. In Maryland and Virginia, the peak of landings occurs in March and April, just prior to the striped bass spawning season. In North Carolina, good landings are made from November to April.
It has not been possible to calculate catch-per-unit-effort due to lack of necessary data, but the catch-per-unit-gear was calculated and analyzed for a representative state in each region. In all cases, fluctuations in landings were much more closely related to catch-per-unit-gear than to amount of gear.
The cyclic nature of high and low years in Maryland landings was recognized. Dominant year classes seemed to occur at six-year intervals, and possible causes were discussed.
KeywordsAtlantic Coast Striped Bass Fishing Gear Commercial Landing Atlantic State
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