Temporal trends in abundance of fish in the tidal Delaware River
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Water quality in the tidal Delaware River has improved dramatically over the last several decades. Areas near Philadelphia that were once anoxic and formed a pollution block to migratory fish passage now rarely experience dissolved oxygen concentrations less than 3 ppm. To assess whether these improvements in water quality led to increased abundance of juvenile fishes, data from a beach seine survey conducted annually since 1980 were examined. The number of species captured increased throughout the tidal river, but the increase was greatest in the areas downstream of Philadelphia, wheare water quality has improved the most. Abundance of juvenile striped bass and American shad, two important game species in the river whose migratory patterns make them susceptible to water quality problems, both increased more than, 1,000-fold during the last decade. Correlatations between the temporal abundance patterns of these species in the tidal Delaware River and in other East Coast systems were poor, suggesting that increases in their numbers were related more closely to improving conditions within the Delaware than to factors affecting coastal stocks.
KeywordsStriped Bass Improve Water Quality Catch Rate White Perch Beach Seine
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