Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



A moratorium on the taking of American shad in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries was established by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) beginning 1 January 1994. The prohibition applied to both recreational and commercial fishers. The moratorium was imposed at a time when commercial catch rates of American shad in Virginia's rivers were experiencing declines. Data from the commercial fishery were the best available for assessing the status of individual stocks. Catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) data were compiled from logbooks that recorded landings by commercial fishermen using staked gill nets at various locations throughout the middle reaches of the three rivers. The logbooks were voluntarily provided to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) during the period 1980-1993, and subsequently used in an assessment of the status of American shad stocks along the Atlantic coast by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) (ASMFC 1999).

Since the moratorium, there have been no monitoring programs that provided direct assessment of stock recovery. The ban on in-river fishing in Virginia remained in effect, creating a dilemma for managers who needed reliable information in order to make a rational decision on when the in-river ban could safely be lifted. To address this deficiency, we proposed a method of scientific monitoring to estimate catch rates relative to those recorded before the prohibition of in-river fishing in 1994. This monitoring program consisted of sampling techniques and locations that were consistent with, and directly comparable to, those that generated historical logbook data collected by VIMS during the period 1980-1993 in the York, James and Rappahannock rivers. The results of the first year's sampling program are reported in this document.


Project Period: 9 March 1998 - 8 March 1999



American Shad, Alosa sapidissima, James River, York River, Rappahannock River, Virginia, Fisheries


Funding Agencies: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Istitute of Marine Science - Contract Number: F-116-R-1



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