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Welcome to the technical sessions schedule for the 2015 SEAFWA Annual Meeting.

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Monday, November 2 • 4:20pm - 4:40pm
Potential Paradigm Shift: Managing an Estuarine Striped Bass Population in the Absence of Natural Reproduction

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Kyle T. Rachels, Benjamin R. Ricks – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

The Neuse River, originating in piedmont North Carolina and draining to Pamlico Sound, historically supported locally important commercial and recreational Striped Bass fisheries. Population declines, habitat degradation, and a lack of fisheries data hindered attempts to manage the population throughout the 20th century. Initial management efforts consisted of intermittent stocking events, a 12-in minimum length limit (MLL), and a 25 fish daily creel limit. Beginning in 1982, more conservative regulations were enacted to restore the population, culminating in an 18-in MLL, a protective 22–27 in slot limit on the spawning grounds, restricted season lengths, and a 2 fish creel limit in 2008. Annual stocking events were initiated in 1992, with a transition from non-natal to endemic-source broodstock occurring in 2012. The 1998 removal of a low-head dam enabled access to an additional 127 km of spawning habitat. Despite recent management efforts, there is little evidence for increased population abundance, mortality is high, and the age-structure is truncated. Analysis of parentage based tagging indicates the 2010–2013 year-classes are almost exclusively hatchery fish with growth rates considerably higher relative to Striped Bass in adjacent systems. The lack of wild reproduction may necessitate a shift in management of the population, potentially away from a restoration focus and instead towards a put-grow-take fishery for recreational anglers. Since the population is subject to two state-agency jurisdictions and multiple commercial and recreational fisheries, future management will require inter-agency collaboration for population enhancement.

Monday November 2, 2015 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
Ballroom Salon A

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