Causes found in decline of smallmouth population

Posted at 3:47 PM, Dec 17, 2015

Over the summer, I wrote about issues facing the Susquehanna River including confirmation of a cancerous tumor found on a smallmouth bass. In addition to that fish, anglers also reported catching smallmouth with open sores on their bodies.

This week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission released a report narrowing the likely cause of the decline in the smallmouth bass population.

Based on a multi-year study, the Fish and Boat Commission announced the two most likely causes were endocrine disrupting compounds and herbicides; and pathogens and parasites.

So what's next?  The commission will now focus on learning the sources of the endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides and what's behind the increase in pathogens and parasites in smallmouth populations.

"The Susquehanna River's smallmouth bass fishery once attracted anglers from all over the world," said PFBC Executive Director John Arway.  "I am confident that the results from the study along with the continued commitment by DEP to identify the causes and reduce the sources will provide for the recovery and return of that once world class recreational fishery."

In conducting the study to determine possible causes, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection actually developed new ways to monitor water quality along the river which it expects to help it improve waterways across the state.

By any stretch, this is a big step to improving the health of the Susquehanna which in turn will improve the health of waterways down stream, including the Chesapeake Bay.