Fly Life Magazine

‘Long lost’ population of St. John River striped bass may have been discovered

Genetic tests reveal unique DNA from a ‘long established population’

By Connell Smith · CBC News · 

For more than four decades it was believed native striped bass in the St. John River had been lost forever. The population crashed over a short period following the opening of the Mactaquac dam in 1968. Sporadic searches since then for evidence of “stripers” spawning in the river had brought up nothing.

Striped bass.

The only fish found were visitors from U.S. rivers or from the Shubenacadie in Nova Scotia. But a new study by scientists from Canada and the U.S. shows the St. John’s native striped bass population has very likely managed to survive.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said lead author Nathalie LeBlanc of the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick. “The St. John River before the crash was actually the biggest commercial fishery of striped bass in Canada. It would be very exciting if we could some day in the future bring that population up to the numbers that it used to be.”

The first clues a population of the native fish was hanging on came in a 2008 study that identified not just visiting bass from the U.S. and the Shubenacadie, but also a third group of fish.The genetics didn’t match anything on record. The fish were tentatively labelled “native” but further research was needed.

That research has just been concluded.

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