Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date




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 1,224 tows in 2018–2019. We collected 660,907 fishes and Bay Anchovy continue to be the most abundant species observed in the survey, accounting for 58% of all fishes collected. Of the target species for which we provide indices of relative abundance, 10 species categories (considering YOY and Age 1+ as distinct categories) exhibited below-average abundance in 2018 – 2019 (American Eel [all three rivers], Bay Anchovy, Black Sea Bass, Blue Catfish age 1+ [Rappahannock River], Channel Catfish juveniles and age 1+ [all three rivers], Scup, Weakfish, White Catfish juveniles [York and Rappahannock rivers], and White Catfish age 1+ [all three rivers]). Seven species categories exhibited above-average abundances (Blue Catfish juveniles [all three rivers], Blue Catfish age 1+ [James and York rivers], Silver Perch, Striped Bass, White Catfish juveniles [James River], White Perch juveniles [James and Rappahannock rivers], and White Perch age 1+ [James River]). Juvenile Atlantic Croaker, Spot, Summer Flounder, and White Perch [York River], as well as age 1+ White Perch [York and Rappahannock rivers] exhibited average relative abundance in 2018-2019.

In 2018, we observed the second lowest level of recruitment for Black Sea Bass and the highest recruitment of Blue Catfish juveniles in the James River, and the second highest levels in the York and Rappahannock rivers. Striped Bass juveniles showed strong recruitment this year and Silver Perch continued to exhibit above-average recruitment, whereas Weakfish had below-average recruitment for the fifth year in a row.



Fisheries, Atlantic


Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Project No. F-104-R-23



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