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Oct 30 2008

Twenty Five Years of Striped Bass Conservation Along the Gulf Coast

Underwater Shot of Striped Bass, Gulf Coast Striped BassI had known that there were over ten different unique populations of striped bass around the United States and even that striped bass along the eastern Atlantic coast migrated all the way down to Florida. However, I never knew we actaully had a striped bass population along the gulf coast. I was reading the newest edition of Eddies today and sure enough not only are there striped bass along the gulf coast, there is a huge restoration effort happening. Pretty cool, read more below.

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The genetically unique Gulf Coaststrain of striped bass was once common to rivers pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. By the 1960’s, its population had declined significantly due to poor water quality and loss of habitat from a wave of dam construction. The last known population of native striped bass survived in low numbers in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river system in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Twenty-five years ago, these states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formed a powerful partnership to restore Gulf striped bass in the ACF. Some remarkable achievements have been made. We know more about its life history and its genetic integrity is safeguarded. The partners evaluate each year the stocking success and food availability; a young-of-year index estimates year-class strength; creel surveys evaluate recreational fishing; and telemetry studies have revealed the waters that provide essential temperatures the fish need. And now many of those coolwater habitats have been protected or rehabilitated. Recreational fishing in these places is carefully managed. Through the partnership, Radium Springs on the Flint River was purchased for habitat protection. Dead Lake Dam on the Chipola River was removed, and the operations at other dams have improved. Biologists have evaluated fish passage problems throughout the basin. Seven state and six federal hatcheries cooperatively stock more than one million Gulf striped bass a year. New recreational fisheries have been created, and anglers have set exciting new records. This work has been a catalyst for striped bass restoration throughout the Gulf region. Today, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi are helping this remarkable 25-yearold partnership ensure the success of this unique and important fish across much of its historic range.

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