The results of last months Solent Young Bass survey are now out and make grim reading! You can view the full .PDF here: Cefas Solent Bass Survey 2013
Average catch rates of bass were 0.41/minute towing in the harbours and 0.26/minute outside (0.34/minute overall). This overall value is well below the mean for the autumn surveys (3.9/minute) and is the lowest of the time series (1989-2013).
The index for the 2010 year class is derived from the separate indices for 2-year-old bass in 2012 and 3-year-olds in 2013, and is extremely low. The index for the 2011 year class is based only on the catch rates of 2-year-olds in 2013, and is also very low. The overall trend is for a large reduction in year class strength from 2008 onwards.
Mike Armstrong, from Cefas, commented in an email:
“You can see the recent year-class indices from the 2013 survey are very low. The 2012 year class which will have had to survive in the estuaries as 0-gp fish through last year’s freezing winter is not represented yet in the index as it is based on 2 – 4 year old fish, so only goes as far as the 2011 year class, which of course will also have been through the cold 2012/13 winter as 1-gp fish then caught this September as 2-gps.
The survey of course only provides an index for juvenile bass abundance in the Solent, although historically the year class variations in the Solent survey have corresponded quite well to the year class signals in the age composition of fishery catches over a wider area of the Channel and Celtic Sea. This might not always be the case, so we are intending as part of our ongoing bass project work to collate as much information as we can from around the coast that might tell us if the recent poor recruitment is more widespread.”