Population-level consumption by Atlantic coastal striped bass and the influence of population recovery upon prey communities
The potential impact of increasing striped bass, Morone saxatilis (Walbaum), populations on prey biomass under two different spatial scales: a broad perspective involving Atlantic coast-wide populations and a finer-scale analysis within the Hudson River, was modelled. Coast-wide striped bass consumption ranged from 17 900 t (1982) to 147 900 t (1995). This level of consumption is equivalent of up to 57% of US menhaden landings over this period. Assuming 10% of diets comprise alosids, Hudson River striped bass ate 26.4–140.7 t of alosids annually from 1985 to 1994 – exceeding the estimated age-0 alosid biomass in the river in 1990 (15.3 t). Analysis of possible management actions to reduce predatory demand was conducted. However, to achieve a 30% reduction in predatory demand would require movement towards historical overfishing conditions. Thus, it may not be possible to manage for high striped bass population levels and high levels of other species upon which they feed due to the competing demands for those species as prey and commercial or recreational resources.