Atlantic Striped Bass

Atlantic Striped Bass

Morone saxatilis

ALSO KNOWN AS:

    Bass, Rockfish, Striper, Linesides

SOURCE:

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

STATUS

  • POPULATION
  • FISHING RATE
  • HABITAT IMPACTS
  • BYCATCH
 

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OVERVIEW

Atlantic Striped Bass

Atlantic striped bass.

LAUNCH GALLERY

Striped bass are both wild-caught and farm-raised. Wild striped bass, often called striper or rockfish, are caught along the East Coast. 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 disclaimer, 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. Some states have also closed their state waters to striped bass fishing. 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

Scientists and managers are currently reviewing two important management issues—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 coastal 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.

 
 
 

LOCATION & HABITAT

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.

 
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BIOLOGY

Striped bass have a fairly long life, up to 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 are 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.

 
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PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

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

 
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OVERVIEW

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

 
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POPULATION STATUS

The most recent stock assessment for striped bass was completed in 2013. The assessment indicated that striped bass are not overfished and not subject to overfishing.

 
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ADDITIONAL RESEARCH

Scientists conduct research to address concerns about the species’ health. Striped bass seen in the Chesapeake Bay have had lesions associated with the disease mycobacteriosis disclaimer, 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.

 
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Harvesting Atlantic Striped Bass

Commercial fishermen harvest striped bass with a variety of fishing gear. The predominant gear types in the commercial fisheries are gillnets, pound nets, and hook and line. Commercial and recreational fisheries for the migratory component of Atlantic striped bass are seasonal in nature because of the species’ north–south migrations.

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Management

Who’s in charge? States from Maine through North Carolina, with coordination by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission disclaimer. 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. disclaimer
Under Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan, managers set harvest limits at a level that will 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. 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 to limit the amount of fish that can be caught.
  • Minimum size limits to protect younger striped bass so they grow, mature, and reproduce.
  • Gear restrictions.
  • Seasonal fishery closures, mainly to protect spawning populations.

The fishery has bycatch monitoring and research programs to increase the accuracy of data on striped bass that are caught but not kept. Bycatch of other species depends on the type of gear used and how, when, and where striped bass are fished. Data on the commercial fishery’s bycatch are collected through at-sea observer programs and vessel logbooks, and data on the recreational fishery’s bycatch are collected through angler surveys. Federal regulations are in place to prevent bycatch of protected species.

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

The Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act and the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act both contain provisions to impose 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 of Commerce and Interior are required to provide biennial reports to Congress and the Commission on studies of the Atlantic striped bass resource.

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Annual Harvest

Annual commercial harvests have remained steady due to quota restrictions and have averaged 7 million pounds over the past several years.

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Economy

The 2012 commercial harvest (from state waters) was valued at just under $19.5 million.

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Recreational

The predominant gear type in the recreational fishery is hook and line. This 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. The recreational harvest of striped bass regularly exceeds the commercial harvest. Total recreational harvest in 2012 was 19 million pounds, and this increased in 2013 to more than 24 million pounds.

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OVERVIEW

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.

 
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SEASONAL AVAILABILITY

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

 
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NUTRITION

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 disclaimer are targeted toward pregnant women and children.

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

 
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