Is this a troubling assumption?
I have been trying to follow the problems that the Striped Bass fishery in the Chesapeake has been facing. The poor juvenile numbers that are being caused by the nutrient enrichment which in turn is causing "dead zones" in the bay to expand which in turn is hurting the juvenile populations in the bay.
Then I read an article in the Cape Cod Times that was published on July 30th 2011 by Doug Fraser. In it he talked to Michael Armstrong, the Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
In the article he mentions, "others believe that heavy spring rains, combined with poor water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, may be wreaking havoc with the larval and juvenile survival rates." I believe this to be true. In addition to the nutrient enrichment which is causing the algae blooms which are effecting fish, it was reported in the article that as much as 50% of the juvenile fish in the bay are infected with Mycobacteriosis, a potentially deadly bacteria. These two facts are apparently leading to a decline in the juvenile fish.
The troubling part came from Mr. Armstrong, who does not believe there is any problem with the stocks. When asked about raising size limits, lowering bag limits or even making the Striped bass a gamefish he said this.
But fishery managers think that effort is misplaced and won't solve the problem. The striped bass stock is still very healthy, they said, arguing that the problem is with juveniles, not adult fish.
"The problem is in the perception (of the recreational fisherman)," Armstrong said. State statistics show the numbers of keeper-size striped bass — 28 inches and over — landed by recreational fishermen has remained stable, or gone up a little. But the smaller fish that were born in the lean years after 2003 are fewer in number, and fishermen who used to catch 50 small ones before they kept the one big fish are disappointed in the lack of action."
I don't believe in this whole perception argument, and it is a troubling assumption to believe that if the adult stocks are okay, then things will be fine.
Now I don't have any fancy degrees and am still a laymen when it comes to these things, but if there is a problem with the juvenile fish not reaching maturity, it would lead me to believe that eventually the stocks would plummet. This isn't perception, it is simple math, if you do not replenish what you have taken soon there will be none.
To me this seems like the same problem that faced the Striped Bass in the 70's due to the PCB's and DDT's killing off the eggs, hatch-lings, and juvenile fish. But this time it is nutrient enrichment due to farm run-off, that is seemingly having the same effect on the Striped Bass through poor conditions leading to disease.
With NOAA seemingly having trouble managing stocks, it is distressing that some people in the MDMF, are not seeing the bigger picture. If this is the perception that is prevalent throughout the community, then the Striped Bass may be in trouble.
My perception of these statements may be off, but i don't think it is.