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Discussion Starter #1
Biologists look at impact of bacterial disease on bass


Published in the Asbury Park Press 03/11/05
By:John Geiser


Marine biologists with an interest in striped bass must be walking around with perpetual frowns these days.
On the one hand they are concerned about possible overfishing by anglers, and on the other hand they are troubled by the physical and nutritional health of the fish because forage is limited and disease is spreading.

Morone saxatilis was declared fully recovered as a species in 1995. Three years later the scientists were alarmed by evidence that survival of young fish in Chesapeake Bay was declining.

They found a high prevalance of the potentially deadly disease mycobacteriosis. Health studies done in Maryland's half of the bay have revealed possibly as high as 50 percent of the striped bass are infected with bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium.

Biologists in Maryland and Virginia also learned that a large percentage of the stripers in the bay had no visible body fat. Comparisons made between the wild stripers and fish kept in captivity revealed the wild bass resembled captive fish that had been deprived of food for two months.

Assemblyman Robert J. Smith, D-Gloucester, and chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which hears all striped bass bills, announced Feb. 11 that he would not support any bill aimed at changing the current striped bass law before an updated stock assessment is released in August by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's stock assessment committee.

Smith said his decision was based primarily on the fact that the new striped bass stock assessment could show the fish are being overfished, and it would not be prudent to make changes until the status of the stocks is known.

Last year the technical committee could not come to agreement on its own data during the summer. The virtual population analysis did not agree with the tagging study results. The stock assessment committee did not recommend specific action, and left the decision up to the ASMFC's striped bass management board when it met Nov. 10. That body ultimately did nothing, and left the coastal benchmark at two fish at 28 inches and up.

Three months later the biologists estimated the total striped bass population at 56.7 million fish, the highest since the rebuilding program was begun in 1982.

The ASMFC's technical committees will meet March 28 through April 1, and included in the data that the striped bass committee might consider is the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey information from 2004.

The preliminary data include the information that the recreational sector caught 19,645,284 striped bass in 2004, up from 17,354,691 in 2003.

However, MRFSS concluded that actual landings of stripers dropped from 2,503,800 in 2003 to 2,411,896 in 2004.

If release mortality is figured at 8 percent, then 1,571,622 stripers were killed through hook and release alone last year.

Meanwhile, the disease and nutrition factors are not going away, and the biologists are trying to come up with some answers.

Mycobacteriosis is a "wasting" disease that progresses very slowly through a fish and results in a loss of body mass. Scientists feel that it is already affecting about 50 percent of the fish in Chesapeake Bay.

Further, mycobacteriosis is zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans. Called "fish handler's disease," it is contracted through direct contact with infected fish. Fishermen in Maryland and Virginia ? recreational and commercial ? have been affected by handling striped bass.

Picking up cuts, stabs or scrapes from releasing or handling bass is common because of the nine or 10 sharp, stiff spines in the first dorsal fin and the sharp-edged gill covers of the fish.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, infections in humans are generally limited to fingertips and bare feet, but joints, bones and lymph nodes may be affected. People who already have cuts or open wounds are at a higher risk of infection.

The most frequent symptom is the formation of a persistent bump or nodule under the skin. Others are ulcers, painful joints and swelling of the lymph nodes.

The question most people ask: Can the fish be eaten if they are infected with mycobacteria? Maryland authorities claim they can, if they appear healthy and are properly cooked.

Fish that have open, red lesions on the body or show signs of hemorrhaging or have dark patches in the fillets should be discarded.

The symptoms of mycobacteria in fish are not always visible to the naked eye, and can only be evident microscopically. The first signs are usually found in internal organs involved in the immune system and in the spleen and kidney.

Ulcers on the skin related to the disease are not typically found except in the most advanced cases when numerous internal organs and tissues are severely infected.

All striped bass that have ulcers or areas of hemorrhage on the skin are not necessarily burdened with mycobacteriosis. Biologists found that many of the lesions found in the fish in Chesapeake Bay were caused by other fish pathogens.

Beginning in 2003, Maryland biologists began studying all age classes of stripers to determine the incidence of mycobacteriosis while fisheries managers are now taking a close look at the population structure to determine if any population level effects are evident.

Some commercial fishermen have been saying for several years that there are just too many striped bass around, and nature is taking a hand in management. The scientific community will be looking even more closely at this possibility, if things do not get better.

------------------------------------------------
Proof ?????
Here are some pictures of Stripers That I Caught
Last Spring:



[ 03-11-2005, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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Nightstrikes, do you think if a certain area is infected that the entire fish is as well? They said if the fish looks healthy and cooked well it should be ok, but what if you cut the visible infection out, does it make it any more suseptable for zoonotic to occur?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good Question,,
I play it safe,and wouldn't eat any fish that
seems to have some type of infection.
And Go out of my way to NOT touch any open
sore.....I always carry Surigal Gloves With
Me After Coming Across the Fish Pictured Above.
Now the fish that I had tested came back as
just having some type of bacterial infection
and it was not mycobacteriosis...
And they also say that the first signs are not
always visable with the infection attacting internal organs first...
The best advise I can give is to always cook
your catch correctly,not under done before
eating any fish...

Very Interesting this subject, I will be on
the lookout for any infected fish this year
and again will be sending such fish off for
research and ofcourse I will post the pictures
and results here....

[ 03-11-2005, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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Another pathetic story by John Geiser.

In all that he never mentioned the causes, lack of bunker and pollution. Nor did he mention that the overfishing problem relates to the healthy stock of large fish, not the smaller fish.
 

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Originally posted by Bob ECT:
Another pathetic story by John Geiser.

In all that he never mentioned the causes, lack of bunker and pollution. Nor did he mention that the overfishing problem relates to the healthy stock of large fish, not the smaller fish.
Swell! You must be a smarter person, and have more definitive research, then all of the collective scientists on the east coast?.because not one of them have been able to reach that same conclusion.

Most scientists say ?the cause remains unknown? I?m thinking a Nobel Prize for your dramatic discovery is in order! (Kidding Bob?) ;)

The truth of the matter is no one really knows why it?s happening. But both things Bob mentioned are possible suspects. But the cause of the disease, other then a pathogen, and why it?s occurring are unknown

[ 03-11-2005, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: MDC ]
 

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MDC this story was about local politics and size limits, nothing else. No if ands or buts about it.

He's simply trying to appeal to the we need to kill some more bass people, to get [email protected] That's why it's pathetic.
 

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Originally posted by NIGHTSTRIKES:
The symptoms of mycobacteria in fish are not always visible to the naked eye, and can only be evident microscopically. The first signs are usually found in internal organs involved in the immune system and in the spleen and kidney.

Ulcers on the skin related to the disease are not typically found except in the most advanced cases when numerous internal organs and tissues are severely infected.
They didn't say what the internal organs look like if the fish is infected, but my guess is that with TB, there are numerous nodules studded along the organs. We see this in humans with TB, they tend to form granulomas, or little balls of infection. Once had a gentleman who looked healthy on the outside, had severe abdominal pain, opened him up and he had TB studded all along his intestines.

I've gutted fish that on the outside looked fine, but on their organs they had firm nodules, which look like tapioca pearls.

I bet we'll find a fair # of fish that look fine but then you gut them, their organs show pathology -- would you eat that fish then? How many people would think twice about closely inspecting the organs if the fillets came out fine?

Still waiting to go out on MY opening day....
 

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I gutted a couple of stripers last season that had their internal organs riddled with little white gritty bumps all over them.
I think Nighstrikes or another mod posted an article last year that indicated that this was an early sign of the bacterial infection.
 

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Originally posted by MargaritaVille:
I gutted a couple of stripers last season that had their internal organs riddled with little white gritty bumps all over them.
I think Nighstrikes or another mod posted an article last year that indicated that this was an early sign of the bacterial infection.
I saw it as well!
 

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I hope they are over populated and every single one dies.They eat anything that will fit in there mouth bunker,flounder, small weakfish,crabs,etc....One day we will realize that there is a natural balance of predators and prey and if it gets out of balance everything suffers.
 

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Originally posted by Fred81876:
I hope they are over populated and every single one dies.They eat anything that will fit in there mouth bunker,flounder, small weakfish,crabs,etc....One day we will realize that there is a natural balance of predators and prey and if it gets out of balance everything suffers.
Get a clue :rolleyes:
 

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Originally posted by Fred81876:
I hope they are over populated and every single one dies.They eat anything that will fit in there mouth bunker,flounder, small weakfish,crabs,etc....One day we will realize that there is a natural balance of predators and prey and if it gets out of balance everything suffers.
I actually agree w/ you here Fred, except for the part saying you hope they all die. The problem w/ striper management is personal agendas, Comms want to kill them all for money and our Rec. management reps don't want to kill any so they can get their kicks catching 100's of fish per night. There needs to be a middle ground, it should't be so difficult to understand, were not talking rocket science here, the right regs need to be implemented for both, there needs to be better enforcement of the regs, and overly destructive fishing practices like gill nets need to be banned, period! Bass can't be allowed to overpopulate, and we can't kill them all, especially all of the same size as both Recs do w/ the all over 28 limits & as Commms do culling their catch to bring back the biggest fish.

[ 03-14-2005, 10:25 AM: Message edited by: CaptG ]
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Fred Has A Valid Point,,
A Striper eats like a pig and just about anything
in its path.. I can see a over population wiping
out other species. We might already be seeing
signs of this with the lack of Fluke,Weakfish
and BlueClaw Crabs at least in the places I fish
in South Jersey over the last few years...

I heard something interesting today on the radio
as I was coming into work this morning,,
Apparently South Jersey is being over run by
Deer,so much in fact that they say they are
stripping our wooded area's bare...And It Might
Be Time For A Controlled Hunt to Lesson The
Deer Poplulation Before To Much Damage Is Done
To The Woodlands,,,

Interesting...
 

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The fluke population is actually doing fairly well. Weakfish, like blues and bass, are a cyclical species, with lots of ups and downs occuring throughout their history.
 

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Originally posted by NIGHTSTRIKES:
Fred Has A Valid Point,,
A Striper eats like a pig and just about anything
in its path.. I can see a over population wiping
out other species. We might already be seeing
signs of this with the lack of Fluke,Weakfish
and BlueClaw Crabs at least in the places I fish
in South Jersey over the last few years...

I heard something interesting today on the radio
as I was coming into work this morning,,
Apparently South Jersey is being over run by
Deer,so much in fact that they say they are
stripping our wooded area's bare...And It Might
Be Time For A Controlled Hunt to Lesson The
Deer Poplulation Before To Much Damage Is Done
To The Woodlands,,,

Interesting...
I can tell you there is a lack of small fluke, where's the hords of shorts? I haven't caught too many shorts the past couple years, that's for sure! Fluke will go the way of the weakfish soon the way I see it! The apparent lack of short fish is a problem! I can tell you the big cow bass aren't holding in the rips into June at night anymore because of the lack of spike weakfish that kept them there in the past. Crabbing, I haven't done any in years, according to reports by friends, it's not worth it. Is the overpopulation of striped bass the problem? Are our bass stocks being mismanaged, and for what reason? These are questions that will be answered differently by different people, depending on their agenda!

The deer herd issue is nothing new, in areas of overpopulation, especially w/out abundant supplementary food sources like standing crops or feeding programs they destroy their forested habitats, malnutritioned deer get diseased and they die off. Forests then regenerate, and the deer slowly make a return. This is the way of mother nature.
 

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As far as flounder, it must depend on where you
were fishing. I for one caught more shorts
last year than in previous years. 50-60 with
only a handful of keepers became normal.

[ 03-14-2005, 12:26 PM: Message edited by: earlybird ]
 

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Originally posted by NIGHTSTRIKES:
I heard something interesting today on the radio
as I was coming into work this morning,,
Apparently South Jersey is being over run by
Deer,so much in fact that they say they are
stripping our wooded area's bare...And It Might
Be Time For A Controlled Hunt to Lesson The
Deer Poplulation Before To Much Damage Is Done
To The Woodlands,,,

Interesting...
Maybe it has something to do with the thousands of new homes being built in these areas, and the clear cutting of the woods that these deer used to thrive in?
 
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