, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 723–729 | Cite as

Temporal trends in abundance of fish in the tidal Delaware River

  • Stephen B. Weisberg
  • Peter Himchak
  • Tom Baum
  • Harold T. Wilson
  • Russell Allen


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.


Striped Bass Improve Water Quality Catch Rate White Perch Beach Seine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Albert, R. C. 1988. The historical context of water quality management for the Delaware Estuary.Estuaries 11:99–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brezina, E. R. 1988. Water quality issues in the Delaware River Basin, p. 30–38.In S. K. Majumdar, E. W. Miller, and L. E. Sage (eds.), Ecology and Restoration of the Delaware River Basin. Pennsylvania Academy of Science, Phillipsburg, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  3. Burton, W. H., S. B. Weisberg, A. Brindley, andJ. Gurley. 1992. Early life stage survival of striped bass in the Delaware River.Archives for Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 23:333–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burton, W. H., S. B. Weisberg, and P. Jacobson. 1993. Effects of hydraulic dredging in the Delaware River Estuary on striped bass ichthyoplankton. Prepared for the Delaware Basin Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative, Trenton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  5. Chittenden, M. E. 1971. Status of the striped bass,Morone saxatilis, in the Delaware River.Chesapeake Science 12:131–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chittenden, M. E. 1974. Trends in the abundance of American shad,Alosa sapidissima, in the Delaware River Basin.Chesapeake Science 15:96–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Daiber, F. C. 1988. Finfish resources of the Delaware River estuary, p. 169–185.In S. K. Majumdar, E. W. Miller, and L. E. Sage (eds.), Ecology and Restoration of the Delaware River Basin. Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences, Phillipsburg, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  8. Dauer, D. M. andR. W. Alden. 1995. Long-term trends in the macrobenthos and water quality of the lower Chesapeake Bay.Marine Pollution Bullentin 30:840–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goodyear, C. P. 1985. Relationship between reported commercial landings and abundance of young striped bass in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.Transaction of the American Fisheries Society 114:92–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jackson, S. andW. Davis. 1994. Meeting the goal of biological integrity in water resource programs in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Journal of the North American Benthological Society 13:592–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Killam, K. A. and W. A. Richkus. 1992. An assessment of fisheries landings records in the Delaware River Estuary. Prepared for the Delaware Estuary Program, Trenton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  12. Lee, G. F. andR. A. Jones. 1991. Effects of eutrophication on fisheries.Reviews in Aquatic Sciences 5:287–305.Google Scholar
  13. Maurice, K. R., R. W. Blye, andP. L. Harmon. 1987. Increased spawning by American shad coincident with improved disolved oxygen in the tidal Delaware River, p. 79–88.In Proceedings of the International Syposium on Common Strategies of Anadromous and Catadromous Fish. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.Google Scholar
  14. McHuch, J. H. 1981. Marine fisheries of the Delaware.Fisheries Bulletin 79:575–599.Google Scholar
  15. Patrick, R. 1992. Surface Water Quality: Have the Laws Been Successful? Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  16. Smith, E. P. andG. Van Belle. 1984. Nonparametric estimation of species richness.Biometrics 40:119–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Tapp, J. F., N. Shillabeer, andC. M. Ashman. 1993. Continued observations of the benthic fauna of the industrialized Tees estuary, 1979–1990.Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 172:67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1995. National Water Quality Inventory 1994 Report to Congress. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  19. Waldman, J. R. andI. I. Wirgin. 1994. Origin of the present Delaware River striped bass population as shown by analysis of mitochondrial DNA.Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 123:15–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Weisberg, S. B. andW. H. Burton. 1993. Desing considerations for beach seine surveys of striped bass.North American Journal of Fisheries Management 13:376–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Young, J. R., R. J. Klauda, andW. P. Dey. 1988. Population estimates for juvenile striped bass and white perch in the Hudson River estuary.American Fisheries Society Monography 4: 89–101.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen B. Weisberg
    • 1
  • Peter Himchak
    • 2
  • Tom Baum
    • 2
  • Harold T. Wilson
    • 3
  • Russell Allen
    • 4
  1. 1.VersarColumbia
  2. 2.New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish, Game and WildlifeNacote Creek Research StationPort Republic
  3. 3.Coastal Environmental ServicesLinthicum
  4. 4.Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife Nacote Creek Research StationNew Jersey Department of Environmental ProtectionPort Republic

Personalised recommendations