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Use of tag data to compare growth rates of Atlantic coast striped bass stocks

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Migratory stocks of Atlantic coast striped bass, Morone saxatilis (Walbaum), range primarily from North Carolina (NC) northward to Canadian waters. Between 1986 and 2000, 267 045 wild striped bass were tagged and released from NC to Massachusetts as part of the Cooperative Striped Bass Tagging Program. Direct measurements of growth of individual fish can be obtained from tag data and are useful for understanding the dynamics of fish populations. Growth rates from regressions of length-increment vs. time-at-liberty were estimated for striped bass tagged and released in three southern states [NC, Virginia (VA) and Maryland (MD)] and three northern states (New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island). Striped bass tagged in waters of northern states grew faster (significantly steeper regression slopes) than those tagged in southern areas. Migratory patterns, stock mixing, and unmeasured biotic and abiotic influences on growth precluded conclusions that observed growth patterns are stock-specific. These results, however, indicate latitudinal differences in growth rates, and should be considered in future research and management of Atlantic coast striped bass.

Keywords: growth; striped bass; tag data

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: USFWS, Maryland Fisheries Resources Office, Annapolis, MD, USAM 2: NYDEC, Hudson River Fisheries Unit, New Paltz, NY, USA 3: Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD, USA 4: Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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