FISHERY PROFILE

Striped Bass by Bottom Trawl (USA)

Mid-Atlantic Coast — Striped Bass

PRIMARY SPECIES:

Striped Bass

FISHERY OPENINGS:

Jun 06 - Dec 31

Bottom Trawl

Fish harvesters drag a large cone-shaped net along the seafloor to catch striped bass and other species such as bluefish, flounder, monkfish, haddock, cod and pollock. The net is sunk and held open by two “otter boards” that look like large, heavy steel or wooden doors. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push the boards outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path. The net is then hauled to the surface using winches and a drum. A single tow can net thousands of fish along with incidental catch.

Harvesting Method

Bottom Trawl

Also known as “dragging,” bottom trawling uses a large net made of polyethylene to catch fish. Steel or wooden doors spread the net open. Floats are attached to the upper mouth of the net to keep it open vertically and weighted “bobbins” are attached to the lower mouth to sink the net. The bobbins’ design depends on the terrain, varying from small rubber discs for smooth sandy seafloors to large metal balls for rough ground. Known as “rock hoppers,” bobbins lift the net over obstacles on the seafloor.

Bottom Trawl

In New England, many different species are caught in bottom trawls. These include bluefish, Atlantic cod, haddock, pollock, yellowtail flounder, witch flounder, winter flounder, windowpane flounder, American plaice, Atlantic halibut, redfish, ocean pout and white hake. Most trawlers are federally permitted to catch multiple groundfish species. Some trawlers also have state permits to catch allocations in state waters.

Conservation Measures

Bottom trawls disturb habitat when dragged along the seabed, and impacts vary by sediment type and the trawl gear used. Undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) are also unintentionally caught.

The striped bass trawl fishery is managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and individual states. A number of measures address conservation in this fishery, including:

  • annual coastal commercial quotas
  • limitation on the number and size of licensed fishing vessels in the fishery
  • requirement for a vessel monitoring system
  • minimum size limits for fish
  • tagging of each individual fish to ensure compliance to catch limits
  • requirement to maintain on board and submit vessel trip reports 

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks
FISHERY DETAILS

Mid-Atlantic Coast

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ECO-RATINGS / CERTIFICATIONS

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FISHERY OPENINGS

Jun 06 - Dec 31

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manages this fishery although individual states may set different, but equivalent conservation regulations in state waters. 

FISH STOCK STATUS

For stock status, visit the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission fishery page.

Quality and Handling

Striped bass caught by bottom trawls are hauled aboard and stored in ice or a mixture of ice and seawater. A group of trawlers operate as day-boats out of Point Judith, Rhode Island, although vessels can stay at sea for about a week.

Members

Food Info Striped Bass


TASTING NOTES

  • Colour: white and light-coloured
  • Texture: large, firm flakes
  • Flavour: slightly sweet 
HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY STRIPED BASS