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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Studying the Delaware Bay - Delaware Bay Finfish Trawl Survey

The Delaware estuary is where freshwater from the Delaware River mixes with salt water from the Delaware Bay. It serves as nursery areas, spawning and feeding grounds, and migratory routes for many fish species. 

New Jersey Bureau of Marine Fisheries biologists conducts several surveys each year to study the status of species populations within the estuary. One of these surveys is the Delaware Bay Finfish Trawl Survey.

In 1991, New Jersey began a Delaware Bay finfish trawl survey of juvenile finfish species to develop indices for comparing the relative annual abundance of selected stocks. The survey was designed to complement a similar effort being conducted on the western side of Delaware Bay by the State of Delaware's Division of Fish and Wildlife and sampling stations were set up within the shallow, near shore waters on the New Jersey side of the bay. Data collected allows biologists to develop relative abundance estimates and length frequencies of estuarine dependent finfish necessary for predicting future fishery trends and harvest potential. 

New Jersey Bureau of Marine Fisheries has hauled 1,399 tows and caught 360,753 fish for an average of 257 fish per tow since the survey's inception in 1991. A total of 76 different species have been identified with the five most abundant being bay anchovy, Atlantic croaker, weakfish, blue crab and Atlantic herring. 

Read the full survey find find out about the unique fishes like mutton snapper and Florida pompano that have been captured in the survey.