February 8, 2013

Striped bass seem down for the count in Maine

Overfishing and climate change may be among the reasons for the decline of the once healthy species.

By North Cairn ncairn@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Maine Department of Marine Resources will give an update next week on how striped bass are faring in Maine's waters and along the coast.

click image to enlarge

Catches of striped bass in Maine have declined drastically from a high of more than 4 million in 2006 to about 224,000 last year.

Staff File Photo

The department plans an information session Tuesday in Yarmouth focusing on research and management efforts to restore and sustain native and migratory striped bass populations.

Catches of striped bass have declined drastically from a high of more than 4 million in 2006, said Linda Mercer, director of marine science for the Department of Marine Resources.

In 2012, only about 224,000 striped bass were caught here.

Mercer said striped bass were overfished in the 1980s, prompting a moratorium in the early 1990s.

Reports on the 2011 populations do not indicate that overfishing is the sole challenge in the recovery of the stock, Mercer said.

Many fish populations have suffered severe declines in recent years because of factors such as warming waters from climate change and continued fishing in areas of the world without adequate management or limits on takes.

In the late 1800s, the native striped bass in Maine were virtually wiped out by overfishing. From 1970 to the early 1980s, no native striped bass were caught.

Juvenile fish were introduced in the mid- to late 1980s, and state officials now believe the population is being restored. The size of the population has not yet been clearly established, but officials are engaged in a tagging and monitoring effort, which is expected to give more accurate numbers.

"We're trying to get a handle on the native fish," Mercer said.

Tuesday's presentation will include a discussion of research by the Department of Marine Resources on the abundance of juvenile striped bass and the tagging program.

The free event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Log Cabin, at 196 Main St. in Yarmouth.

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:


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