Although a long-sought recreational and commercial fish along the entire east coast of the United States, striped bass have also historically been a fundamental element of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
In 1967, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science was one of the earliest institutions to begin monitoring striped bass recruitment, through funding from the Commercial Fisheries Development Act of 1965 . Although the program was temporarily halted in 1973 due to a discontinuation of funding, decreases in the commercial harvest of striped bass throughout the 1970s caused concern among scientists, managers, and the public. The program was re-instituted in 1980 using Emergency Striped Bass Study funds (the “Chafee Amendment”).
In 1981, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) developed the Atlantic Coast Striped Bass Interstate Fisheries Management Plan (FMP), including recommendations aimed at improving stock status. Although the ASMFC did not exert regulatory authority within individual states at the time, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) adopted this plan in 1982 in an effort to support the stock. Due to continued declines in striped bass stocks, Congress passed the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act in 1984 requiring states to enforce FMP management measures or face a harvest moratorium. Amended six times to address striped bass recovery and changes in management of the stocks, the FMP continues to require “producing states,” including Virginia and Maryland to monitor their striped bass stocks.
Since 1989, the VIMS Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey has been funded through the Wallop-Breaux expansion of the Sportfish Restoration and Enhancement Act of 1988. While the striped bass stock was declared as recovered in 1990, monitoring of juvenile abundance has continued through present day as a method to sustainably manage this critically important resource.