SARA Status: Under Consideration
COSEWIC Status: Extirpated (November 2004)
In 1993, amendments were made to the Quebec Fishery Regulations to prohibit recreational fishing and sale of striped bass.
The striped bass was once a commercially important species in Eastern Canada. Due to habitat alteration, heavy commercial and recreational fishing and illegal fishing, the striped bass population of the St. Lawrence Estuary has unfortunately disappeared. The last record dates from 1968. Other striped bass populations still exist in Canada.
Striped bass is an anadromous species - meaning that it spawns in fresh water before moving downstream to brackish and salt water to feed and mature. It is dark olive green on the back with paler silvery sides and white on the belly. Seven or 8 dark stripes run horizontally down its sides. The largest specimen captured in Canadian waters measured less than 1 metre.
The species is typically associated with estuaries and coastal waters. An abundant striped bass population is an indicator that a river and its estuary are in good condition: the species requires high quality spawning and nursery habitat and abundant aquatic species for food.
Striped bass spawn in freshwater and occasionally brackish water. Egg incubation, larval and young-of-the-year development correspond to a gradual movement downstream to saltwater, where they typically feed and grow for several years before reaching maturity.
A particular feature of Canadian striped bass populations is that they overwinter in rivers in order to escape the cold ocean waters.
The striped bass can live and, in some cases, complete its entire life cycle in freshwater, although there are no known freshwater striped bass populations in Canada.
The St. Lawrence Estuary striped bass population was very heavily exploited. The sport fishery was particularly intense in the summer months and striped bass was also caught by commercial fishers.
Judging from reported commercial landings, the St. Lawrence Estuary population appears to have declined significantly since the mid-1950s. In 1957, annual landings, which had always fluctuated between 5 and 50 tonnes, dropped below 3 tonnes, where they remained until 1965, the last year for which commercial catches of this species were reported. The last time a striped bass was caught in the St. Lawrence Estuary was in 1968.
The disposal of dredge material in a section of the seaway is believed to have contributed to confining immature bass to a limited area along the south shore where fishing subsequently became concentrated.
Extirpated (Nov. 2004)