Trends in fish abundance in Mount Hope Bay: Is the Brayton Point Power Station affecting fish stocks?

Publication Date



Brayton point, impingement, power plant, Rhode Island, slope, survey, wildlife

Journal or Book Title

Northeastern Naturalist


Trends in abundance for winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus), windowpane (Scophthalmus aquosus), hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus), tautog (Tautoga onitis), and scup (Stenotomus chrysops) in upper and lower Mount Hope Bay were compared to trends in Narragansett Bay to assess the effect of natural and anthropogenic stressors, including Brayton Point Power Station, on Mount Hope Bay fishes from 1972 to 2001. Sources of data included the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife trawl survey for Narragansett Bay and lower Mount Hope Bay, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography trawl survey for Narragansett Bay, and the Marine Research, Inc. trawl and Brayton Point Station impingement surveys for upper Mount Hope Bay. Analysis of covariance and Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison tests were used to evaluate differences in the slopes of transformed abundance indices from 1972-2001 and for two subsets of years, 1972 to 1985 and 1986 to 2001, periods of lower and higher power plant cooling water withdrawals, respectively. Trends in abundance of these species in both upper and lower Mount Hope Bay are not substantively different from those in Narragansett Bay during any of the three time periods evaluated. This is evident through either a high-level visual inspection of the slopes measured for each species, time period, and area or a more detailed inspection of the analysis of covariance results and Tukey-Kramer confidence intervals associated with each slope estimate. Natural and anthropogenic stressors unique to Mount Hope Bay, including Brayton Point Station, have not caused Mount Hope Bay fish stocks to change at rates different from those observed for the same stocks in Narragansett Bay. This supports the conclusion that large-scale factors such as overfishing, climate change, and increased predator abundance are more likely to be the cause of the observed declines in important species such as winter flounder in Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay.





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