Decades of effort involving the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and a hatchery in Carlsbad have dramatically increased white bass stocks off Southern California and Mexico.
A new study published this week and based on genetic markers showed that up to 46% of bass samples recently caught off the coast were fish introduced under California’s Ocean Resource Enhancement and Hatchery Program. .
“These results are extremely promising for the OREHP program and for the restoration of the white bass fishery,” said Mark Drawbridge, senior scientist at Hubbs SeaWorld.
Previous studies using metal tags on hatchery fish were inconclusive. But the genetic marker technique developed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is considered nearly 100% accurate.
“We hope these promising results will generate the interest and funding needed to continue this work for the benefit of the white bass fishery and the people who enjoy fishing it,” Drawbridge said.
The program is funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife largely through the sale of the ocean enhancement stamp required on fishing licenses for anglers between Point Arguello and the Mexican border.
Since 1983, more than two and a half million juvenile white bass have been released along the southern California coast. In 2020, the bass population was 27% of the level before commercial fishing began.
The Leon Raymond Hubbard Jr. Marine Fish Hatchery on Agua Hedonia Lagoon in Carlsbad was recently expanded to grow other marine fish.