Snap A Striper

The Coastal Conservation Association-Maine (CCA-Maine) and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) are collaborating on an ongoing data collection program called “Snap-A-Striper,” aimed at compiling photos and valuable information from live release and legally kept striped bass caught in Maine waters.

Photo Tips:

When a striper of any size is to be released, the photo process is best accomplished with two people working together in a boat.  One person plays the fish while the other fills in a data card which can be downloaded here.  Note: if printing your own data card, be sure to turn off print scaling in your pdf reader.

The fish is photographed with the card in the frame and the fish is released as quickly as possible. The photograph can then be emailed to stripers@gmri.org. A new data card should be used for each fish photo.

To minimize stress on stripers to be released:

  • Wet the deck slightly before bringing the striper aboard.
  • Lay the fish flat on the deck
  • Ensure the whole fish is visible in the frame – stand on a seat if necessary.
  • The data card must be in the frame (see sample photo below)

When photographing a striper that will be legally harvested, you will need to put a filled-in data card in the frame. We encourage you to remove the head, freeze it in a plastic bag with the same data card used in the photo, and deliver it to one of the freezer drop off points listed here:

Snapastriper0190

Whenever possible, GMRI prefers photos of both released and harvested stripers to be taken with filled-in SAS data cards. But in a pinch, you can take a fish photo with just a ruler in the frame (tick marks on the ruler must be clearly visible) and email the photo to stripers@gmri.org, adding the required data.

The morphometric (body shape) data from every striped bass photo taken with the Snap-a-Striper card in place, as well as data retrieved from otoliths (fish ear bones) collected from the heads of harvested striped bass, can help fishery scientists determine the origin of the fish and provide information that can improve fisheries management.

Striped bass catches in Maine have declined dramatically in recent years without a clear understanding of all the contributing factors. This decline of a valuable natural resource has greatly reduced recreational fishing opportunities and thus negatively impacted Maine from a socio-economic perspective.

Scientists do not yet understand the relative contribution of stripers spawned in the Kennebec River watershed versus fish that migrate to the coastal striped bass fishery in Maine from more southern spawning populations. The morphometrics and otolith chemistry analyses used by GMRI in the Snap-a-Striper research are effective tools that can identify the origin of striped bass and help determine if a striper is a resident or a migratory fish.

Snap-a-Striper is a really important angler driven “citizen science” program. We encourage everyone with an interest in improving our knowledge of striped bass in Maine to participate in Snap-A-Striper and we thank you for doing so!

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