Friday, April 26, 2013

Smallmouth bass in Chesapeake Bay are sick

A smallmouth bass with cancer caught in the Susquehanna
River. (Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission)
Sport fishing for smallmouth bass, which has been a multimillion-dollar industry in the Chesapeake Bay, is under crisis, as many of the fish are becoming sick and are in condition too poor to keep as trophies. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a report Thursday saying the fish have "been struck by a perfect storm of pollution, parasites, disease and endocrine disruptors that are changing the sex of males," reports Darryl Fears for The Washington Post

The Chesapeake Bay is about 200 miles, with hundreds of rivers and thousands of streams and creeks flowing throughout the watershed, which stretches more than 64,000 miles through six states. For more background, see the Chesapeake Bay Program.

One feeder stream hit particularly hard is the 444-mile Susquehanna River, which flows from New York through Pennsylvania. Citing a study by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the report found that between 2001 and 2005, catch rates for adult bass fell 80 percent in some areas of the Susquehanna, reports Fears. Commission Director John Arway said "he caught and released 200 bass on a summer night before 2005 and can now catch only three or four, and that anglers who come up empty-handed are shying away from the smallmouth bass, a business valued at nearly $650 million in 2011, according to the American Sportfishing Association," reports Fears. (Read more)

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