Trends in relative abundance and size of selected finfish in Texas Bays: November 1975-June 1985
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Trends in the relative abundance and size of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), black drum (Pogonias cromis), sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma, Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), sand seatrout (C. arenarius), gafftopsail catfish (Bagre marinus), Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), hardhead catfish (Arius felis), pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides), spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) have been monitored since 1975 using a standardized fishery independent gill net and bag seine sampling program in eight Texas bay systems. The impacts of management decisions based on optimum sustained yield, effects of catastrophic events and stock recruitment relationships can be measured by using estimates of relative abundance based on the fishery independent monitoring program. Fall and spring gill net catch rates indicate that declines in red drum and spotted seatrout populations have slowed or stopped since the prohibition of sale of these species in September 1981. However, the effect of these regulations has been affected by a coastwide fish kill caused by freezing temperatures during December 1983 and January 1984. Reduced population levels of red drum, spotted seatrout and black drum due to this freeze were observed in the 1984 and spring 1985 gill net catch rates and in the annual (1983-84) bag seine catches.