2021 Annual Report Estimating Relative Juvenile Abundance of Ecologically Important Finfish in the Virginia Portion of Chesapeake Bay (1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021)

Abstract

The Trawl Survey provides crucial data to state, regional, and national fisheries management agencies, including the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the Mid‐Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The MAFMC recognizes the juvenile trawl survey as one of the key predictors of Summer Flounder recruitment. Annual indices of juvenile abundance have been generated from trawl survey data for species of key recreational and ecological importance in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay. These include Spot, Atlantic Croaker, Weakfish, Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass, Scup, Striped Bass, White Perch, White Catfish, Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, Silver Perch, American Eel, and Bay Anchovy. We completed most targeted tows this past year and only missed the upper‐river stations in the James and Rappahannock rivers and a few shallow Bay stations during July and August 2020 due to COVID‐19 safety restrictions. As a result, we could not calculate an index for American Eel in the James and Rappahannock rivers. We are also unable to calculate an index for the 2019 year‐class of Black Sea Bass due to the stay‐at‐home order that included May 2020, which was an important index month for this species. A summary of other species affected by COVID‐19 restrictions is shown in the table below. (...

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