Atlantic Striped Bass

Atlantic Striped Bass

Morone saxatilis


    Bass, Rockfish, Striper, Linesides


    U.S. wild-caught from Maine to North Carolina



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Atlantic Striped Bass

Atlantic striped bass.


Striped bass are both wild-caught and farm-raised. Wild striped bass, often called striper or rockfish, are caught along the East Coast, mainly in Virginia and Maryland. Most farmed striped bass are actually hybrids, a cross between striped bass and white bass. Both wild-caught and farmed striped bass have a slightly sweet flavor.

Wild striped bass have supported one of the most important commercial and recreational fisheries on the Atlantic coast for centuries. According to early records, striped bass were so abundant at one time they were used to fertilize fields. However, overfishing and poor environmental conditions led to the collapse of the fishery in the 1980s. Through management coordinated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, along with the dedication of commercial and recreational fishermen, the stock was rebuilt in 1995. Scientists and managers continue to monitor Atlantic striped bass to support this valuable fishery.

U.S. federal waters (beyond 3 miles offshore) remain closed to all striped bass fishing, both commercial and recreational. In October 2007, an Executive Order encouraged states, where applicable, to designate striped bass as a “gamefish” in state waters and prohibited commercial sale of striped bass caught in federal waters. Striped bass caught in state commercial fisheries or raised through aquaculture operations are still available to U.S. consumers in supermarkets and restaurants.

Looking Ahead

Two important management issues currently under review are mycobacteriosis (a bacterial disease found in striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond) and illegal harvest (poaching). Scientists are uncertain about the effect of mycobacteriosis on the striped bass population and continue research to better understand the disease, predator-prey relationships, and water quality issues affecting Chesapeake Bay striped bass. Managers and enforcement officers continue to combat poaching of striped bass. Recent fines in the Chesapeake Bay totaled over $1.6 million and were levied against 19 individuals and three corporations for more than 1 million pounds of illegally harvested striped bass. The Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission will conduct a benchmark stock assessment for striped bass in 2013, taking a fresh look at all stock assessment models, available data, and new information on discarding, poaching, and disease.



Striped bass live along the East Coast from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to St. John’s River in Florida, and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Louisiana. They were also introduced to inland lakes and reservoirs and to the West Coast, where they’re now found from Mexico to British Columbia.

Striped bass are anadromous—they live in the ocean but return to freshwater to spawn. After they hatch, striped bass larvae drift downstream toward their nursery areas in river deltas and the inland portions of the coastal sounds and estuaries. Juveniles typically remain in estuaries for 2 to 4 years and then migrate out to the Atlantic Ocean. Some striped bass spend the majority of their adult life in rivers or coastal estuaries, and some spend it in the ocean, migrating north and south seasonally and ascending to rivers to spawn in the spring. Striped bass tagged in the Chesapeake Bay have been caught in Canadian waters.



Striped bass have a fairly long life, up to at least 30 years. Their growth depends on where they live –larger striped bass grow to about 5 feet in length and 55 to 77 pounds. Males sexually mature between the ages of 2 and 4; females are able to reproduce when they are 4 to 8 years old. In the spring, mature striped bass migrate back to fresh or brackish water to spawn. Females produce large quantities of eggs, which are fertilized by males as they are released. While developing, the fertilized eggs drift downstream and eventually hatch into larvae.

Larval striped bass feed on zooplankton (microscopic animals). Juveniles eat insect larvae, small crustaceans, mayflies, and other larval fish. Adult bass are piscivorous (fish-eating). They eat almost any kind of small fish as well as several invertebrates, particularly crabs and squid. Bluefish, weakfish, cod, and silver hake prey on small striped bass; adult striped bass have few predators, with the possible exception of seals and sharks.



Striped bass have stout bodies with seven to eight continuous horizontal stripes on each side of the body from gills to tail. Their coloring can be light green, olive, steel blue, black, or brown, with a white or silver iridescent underside.



NOAA provides support for key research and scientific findings on striped bass by state management agencies and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. NOAA partners with these agencies in making better informed decisions regarding this valuable living marine resource.



The most recent update to the stock assessment for striped bass was completed in November 2009, and was updated in 2011. The assessment and update indicated that striped bass are not overfished and that harvest rates are sustainable. Stock abundance has declined from an all-time high in 2004. The decline is thought to be from the Chesapeake Bay component of the stock (found in Maine) and not from the Hudson Bay component (found in New York). In 2010 the spawning stock (striped bass capable of reproducing) in 2010 remained relatively high due to the growth and maturation of striped bass born in 2003 and the abundance of generations born prior to 1996. The 2011 annual Maryland survey of juvenile striped bass found numbers at the fourth highest level in the history of the 58-year survey.



Despite the success of the management program, scientists continue to conduct research to address concerns about the species’ health. Striped bass seen in Chesapeake Bay have had lesions associated with the disease mycobacteriosis, a slowly progressing bacterial infection that produces various external and internal symptoms. Researchers are exploring how some striped bass become infected while others do not.

Striped bass are important predators in coastal and marine ecosystems. As part of an effort to understand ecosystem functioning, scientists are developing a multispecies model that incorporates predator–prey and competitor interactions among striped bass, Atlantic menhaden, bluefish, and weakfish to help determine species abundance trends and understand the impacts of each fishery on the ecosystem.


Harvesting Atlantic Striped Bass

Commercial fishermen harvest striped bass with a variety of gears. Gill nets are most common, but fishermen also use pound nets, haul seines, trawls, and hook-and-line gear. Recreational fishermen almost always use hook-and-line gear.

Commercial and recreational fisheries for the migratory component of Atlantic striped bass are seasonal in nature because of the species’ north–south migrations.



Who’s in charge? States from Maine through North Carolina, with coordination by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act and the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act direct state and federal conservation efforts for this stock.

Current management: Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.
Under Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan, the harvest will be maintained below a specific rate to conserve the striped bass spawning stock so the resource can continue to replace harvested fish. Researchers have determined that the minimum age for female striped bass to reproduce is between the ages of 4 and 8. Using this information, managers set the target population levels for this species based on the size of the female spawning stock.

In state waters, the commercial fishery is currently controlled through:

  • State-by-state catch quotas.
  • Minimum size limits to protect younger striped bass so they grow, mature, and reproduce.
  • Gear restrictions.
  • Seasonal fishery closures, mainly to protect spawning populations.
  • Bycatch monitoring and research programs to increase the accuracy of data on striped bass that are caught but not kept.

Federal waters (between 3 and 200 miles offshore) currently remain closed to all commercial and recreational fishing for Atlantic striped bass.

Under the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, the Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of the Interior have the authority to place a federal moratorium on striped bass fishing in states that fail to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan. The Secretaries must also provide biennial reports to Congress and the Commission on studies of the Atlantic striped bass resource.

The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Management Act further builds upon the success achieved by the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act. This act provides a mechanism to ensure Atlantic coastal state compliance with mandated conservation measures in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s approved fishery management plans.


Annual Harvest

Annual commercial harvests have remained steady due to quota restrictions and have averaged 6.9 million pounds over the past several years.



The 2010 commercial harvest was valued at over $17 million.



The recreational fishery is managed through minimum size limits, a limit on the number of striped bass fishermen can catch and keep in a day, and seasonal fishing closures. Recreational harvest of striped bass from the migratory component totaled 21,337 pounds in 2010.



Wild striped bass has a more pronounced taste and a coarser texture than farmed striped bass, which has a more delicate, slightly sweet flavor. Striped bass have light-colored flesh with firm, large flakes.



Frozen year-round; fresh year-round, depending on area.



Striped bass is a good source of low-fat protein and selenium. Consumption advisories for striped bass vary from state to state, based upon levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) found in the fish. Most of these consumption advisories are targeted toward pregnant women and children. Click here for the latest fish consumption advisories.

Servings 1
Serving Weight 100 g (raw)
Calories 97
Protein 17.73 g
Fat, total 2.33 g
Saturated fatty acids, total 0.507 g
Carbohydrate 0 g
Sugars, total 0 g
Fiber, total dietary 0 g
Cholesterol 80 mg
Selenium 36.5 mcg
Sodium 69 mg

Atlantic Striped Bass Table of Nutrition