Black Sea Bass - North of Cape Hatteras - 2013
Stock Status — Recovering — The National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) 2012 assessment update was not accepted by reviewers due to uncertainty over the impact of life history patterns and no acceptable index of abundance. However, the 2012 assessment indicates that the stock was not overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2011. With no clear evidence of overfishing and increased coast-wide catches in recent years the stock is considered to be recovering. Currently the stock is managed through a conservative catch-based strategy.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003-2012 – 229,979 lbs./$565,890
2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 61,187 lbs./$197,059 (quota managed)
Average Recreational Landings 2004-2012* – 18,013 lbs., 2012 – 7,151 lbs.
Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2003-2012** – 140, 2012** – 74
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 managed under the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission/Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council Interjurisdictional Fisheries Management Plan, adopted in 1988. Amendment 13 to the FMP established the implementation of a state-specific allocation of the coast-wide quota. North Carolina’s allocation of the commercial quota is 11%. Other amendments to the FMP have impacted management of summer flounder, most recently Amendment 15, part of the 2011 Omnibus Amendment. Management measures include commercial quotas, minimum mesh sizes for trawls and escape vents for pots as well as recreational minimum size limits, bag limits and seasonal closures.
Research and Data Needs – a consistent fishery-independent survey of black sea bass north of Hatteras adults (e.g. fish pot or hook and line surveys) and juveniles (e.g. ocean trawl surveys), fishery-dependent age and sex data from the commercial and recreational fisheries, adult migration patterns.
2012 Regulations – Commercial: 11 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit. Recreational: 12 ½ inches TL minimum size limit, 25-fish bag limit.
Harvest Season – Commercial: Year round with peak landings from January through April. Recreational: May 19 through October 14 and from November 1 through December 31 (November-December 2012 season did not open because the coast-wide allowable catch limit was exceeded prior to opening).
Size and Age at Maturity – 7.7 inches (TL)/2-3 years
Historical and Current Maximum Age – females 8 years, males 12 years
Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available
Habits and Habitats – Black sea bass change from female to male between the ages of 2 years and 4 years. Tagging studies suggest fish aggregate offshore north of Cape Hatteras in winter and spring months then move to nearshore areas in summer and fall, possibly returning to the same coastal areas year after year. Black sea bass are known to inhabit both low and high-relief hard-bottom areas.
* harvest was split north and south of Hatteras based on county of landing, split data prior to 2004 were unavailable
** includes citations statewide
For more information, contact Tom Wadsworth at Tom.Wadsworth@ncdenr.gov or 252-808-8193