Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Special Scientific Report No. 124 V. 1998


The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has conducted a trawl survey dating back to 1955. Over the years methods and objectives have varied according to funding sources and state and/or federal mandates.· The present thmst of the program is to provide juvenile indices of relative abundance for recreationally, commercially, and ecologically important fish and invertebrates. These measures of juvenile abundance are widely used as a key element in the management of the Atlantic States' coastal fishery resources. Estimates of juveniles (age-0) have proven to be a reliable and early indicator offuture year-class strength. A review of previously available indices of juvenile abundance for important fishery resource species of the Chesapeake Bay by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee (CBSAC), a federal/state committee sponsored and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), resulted in the recommendation that, "a unified, consistent trawl program should be one of the primary monitoring tools for finfish and crab stock assessment." (Chesapeake Bay Program Stock Assessment Plan, Chesapeake Executive Council 1988). Several comments should be noted for the 1998 sampling year. In May, mega-invertebrates (2: 5mm) began to be sampled. For most species only presence was noted at each trawl location. For selected species, counts were also collected. Habitat data began to be recorded in May as well. Categories were selected based on samples obtained in the trawl or attached to the tickler chain. Habitat types include: sponge, hydroids, sea squirts, submerged aquatic vegetation, shell, etc. These habitats were categorized for each sample based on volume. In July, sampling began on some of the · smaller secondary water systems. The Pocomoke Sound, Mobjack Bay, and Piankatank River were sampled on only a limited basis over the past 40 years. The Great Wicomico River had never been sampled by the program. Information from these water systems should help better understand species distribution and essential habitat for target species. Species with marked increases in catch rates included spadefish and Atlantic croaker. Species with decreasing catch rates included scup, spot, and blue crabs. The program suffered a setback in August when the engine of the research platform, RIV Fish Hawk, failed. The vessel could not be repaired in time and a portion of the Rappahannock River and the entire Chesapeake Bay were not sampled. This marked the first time in over 15 years the survey was not, or could not, be completed as scheduled.



Fisheries, Management, Abundance, Virgina