By Sonya Stevenssstevens@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- There is good news for some local fisherman: there are now more striped bass in the Ashley River. It's all part of a Department of Natural Resources project to rebuild the population.
What may look like a normal bucket is actually full of fish; just a small portion of the striped bass released in the Ashley River. To be exact there are now 5,000 more; they were pumped in Wednesday afternoon.
"When the fish come up, they come up in hauling boxes, they are aerated in there and then when they get here they have to be acclimated to the water chemistry that is here at the landing, so we pump water through the system until they match in term of temperature and salinities," said Tanya Darden, a DNR marine scientist.
Of course before they are released, some are measured, weighed and clipped at the fin. The fin clip is very important because it gets a lot of information, which can be helpful for research down the road.
"The next phase is really trying to determine whether there is a self-sustaining population, because we would prefer to have a population be restored and then let it do its own thing naturally. Right now we have evidence that suggest they may actually be reproducing in the system on their own, but we are not there yet to know for sure that is happening," said Darden.
So in the meantime, DNR will continue to rebuild the population and do more research.
"The ecosystem itself is better with a top predator like a striped bass in it and that is one of DNR's priorities is to restore some of those keystone species," said Darden.
And that balance is a good thing for fishermen too, who now have more to catch.
"A lot of them are catching the smaller fish so maybe like the one, age one- and age two-size fish those are still a little bit under the legal size limit for keeping so a lot of that is still a catch and release type fishery. A few of them have been catching some of the larger ones, the adults, which we are hoping to see more of in the next three to five years," said Darden.
The restoration project has been going on since 2006.
DNR also conducts surveys along the coast every month to evaluate the current fish population and gather more information.