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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 01 Black Sea Bass NOH SSR 2012

Marine Fisheries

black seabass

Black Sea Bass - North of Cape Hatteras - 2012

Stock Status — Recovering —The northern stock of black sea bass was evaluated using a statistical catch at length model. The 2010 National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) updated assessment indicates that the current population size is above the biomass goal and overfishing is not occurring; therefore, the stock is considered rebuilt. However, uncertainty in the stock status has resulted in conservative management of this stock.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2002-2011 – 239,714 lbs./$575,507

2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 97,537 lbs./$273,267 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2002-2011* – 182,072 lbs., 2011* – 143,234 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2002-2011* – 153, 2011* – 523

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, the stock north of Cape Hatteras and south of the United States/Canada border is currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)/Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council FMP compliance requirements. Management measures include commercial quotas, minimum mesh sizes for trawls, escape vents for pots, and minimum fish size limits. Amendment 13 to the FMP established the implementation of a state-specific allocation of the coastwide quota. North Carolina’s allocation of the commercial quota is 11%.

Research and Data Needs – There continue to be gaps in critical life history information for black sea bass and current sampling gear may not be optimal to assess the population. Continue monitoring of catches, continue federal tagging projects, develop age information, conduct additional fishery independent surveys, utilize alternative survey gear (pots or handlines), and conduct more experimental and field evaluation of spawning behavior.

Current Regulations – Commercial: 11 inches TL minimum size limit. Recreational: 12.5 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit, 25-fish bag limit, open seasons from May 19 through October 14 and from November 1 through December 31.

Harvest Season – Commercial: Year round with peak landings from January through April. Recreational: Historically year round but now constrained by open seasons; peak harvest time tends to vary annually.

Size and Age at Maturity – 7.7 inches TL/2 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 12 years/8 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Black sea bass change sex from female to male between the ages of 2 years and 4 years. Black sea bass north and south of Cape Hatteras are recognized as different stocks. Black sea bass inhabit irregular hard-bottom areas such as wrecks, artificial reefs, reef and rock outcroppings. Black sea bass north of Cape Hatteras move inshore and north in the summer and offshore and south in the winter.

*Includes black sea bass landed north and south of Cape Hatteras.

For more information, email Tom Wadsworth at Tom.Wadsworth@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8193.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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