Advancing Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management: Biological Reference Points for Nutritional Status of Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)

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Nutritional condition is a valuable metric in ecosystem-based fisheries management. However, the need for lethal sampling for the most accurate indicators ethically and logistically limits sample sizes. Percent moisture has been recommended for management of striped bass Morone saxatilis and a management threshold has been suggested. Past researchers have used bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to non-lethally estimate percent dry weight, the inverse of percent moisture. We sought to develop species-specific BIA models for striped bass in a controlled, laboratory setting and later validate those models with independent, field-collected data. BIA models were developed for five size classes and sampled across three temperatures. Results in the lab suggest BIA is an accurate and robust method for estimating percent dry weight in striped bass. However, when implemented in field surveys results are less conclusive. Possible differences between wild and hatchery-reared striped bass that effect BIA need further exploration. Additionally, the effects of salinity and stress response on BIA warrant further work.