There are three different articles about clupeid (herring family) fish in the Chesapeake Bay in today's Chesapeake Bay news, non terribly exciting in and of themselves, but in combination suggesting that these basic forage fish are in trouble in the ChesApeake:
Service rejects bid to add river herring to endangered species list
Populations of river herring may be at low levels along the East Coast, but the small fish are not likely to disappear and do not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, a federal review has concluded.
In 2011, the Natural Resources Defense Council had petitioned for the fish to receive protection as a threatened species under the act, saying overall numbers of alewife and blueback herring — collectively known as river herring — were a “tiny fraction” of their historic abundance.
But in August, the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that available information indicated that alewife stocks along the East Coast were generally either stable or increasing. The situation for blueback herring was slightly worse: Some stocks were stable, but those in the mid-Atlantic were decreasing.
Overall, the review said the risk of alewife extinction was small, while the risk of blueback herring extinction was moderate-low. While not threatened or endangered, the review did agree that both stocks were low compared with historic levels, and that available data for both species is often poor.
Biologists say this spring’s shad run remained at relatively low levels, though they also reported a robust season for stocking hatchery-reared fish in tributaries around the watershed.Commission shuts down Potomac River menhaden fishery
They also reported strong numbers of American eels at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River and the launch of a river herring stocking effort on the Patapsco River. American shad, as well as eels and river herring, are near record low levels along the East Coast.
For shad, long a restoration priority in the Bay watershed, the news was especially bad on the Susquehanna River, where only 12,733 American shad were lifted over the fish elevator at Conowingo, located just 10 miles upstream from the Bay. That was, by far, the worst number reported at the dam since 1997, when the multimillion dollar fish lift became the primary means for moving fish upriver.
Just 202 American shad made it past all four hydroelectric dams on the lower Susquehanna, making it the fourth- worst year since all of the lifts became operational in 2000.
The Potomac River Fisheries Commission closed all menhaden fisheries in the Potomac River Aug. 22 complying with new catch limits mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The commission determined that overfishing was taking place and set new limits.
Twenty pound net fishermen take about 99 percent of the menhaden in the Potomac River. This accounts for about 26 percent of the coast-wide quota.
This year menhaden were not as abundant in the Potomac as last year, according to Ellen Cosby, assistant executive secretary of the commission. The commission tracks menhaden catches closely. Instead of the fishery being closed in June, it closed this month.