Surveys find ‘healthy’ rockfish reproduction in Chesapeake Bay

WASHINGTON — Studies show one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most beloved inhabitants appears to be doing well.

Striped bass, also known around here as rockfish, are reproducing at an average to above-average rate in the bay. That’s according to the latest annual surveys done over the summer in Maryland and Virginia waters.

“By estimating the relative number of young-of-year striped bass, our survey provides an important measure of annual and long-term trends in the bay’s striped bass population,” said Mary Fabrizio, director of the Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The bay is the biggest rockfish nursery on the Atlantic Coast, and the species is a favorite of fishermen and seafood lovers alike.

The number of rockfish in the bay took a steep drop in the 1970s and ’80s, but conservation efforts, including yearslong fishing bans, helped them bounce back.

According to the institute, survey results from the last few years suggest that the number of young rockfish in the bay remains stable.

“Consecutive years of healthy reproduction is a great sign for the future of this iconic species,” said David Blazer, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services director.

“The survey results are encouraging and complement our efforts to conserve and protect the striped bass fishery throughout the watershed for the benefit of anglers, commercial watermen and the species.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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