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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 01 Black Sea Bass NOH SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

black seabass

Black Sea Bass - North of Cape Hatteras - 2014

Stock Status – Recovering – Based on the 2008 National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) stock assessment results, the stock was not overfished but overfishing was occuring. The 2011 benchmark stock assessment used a different model and was not accepted by reviewers for stock status determination or management due to uncertainty over the impact of life history patterns and no acceptable index of abundance. However, the 2012 assessment update used a similar model to the 2009 assessment and while it was not accepted for stock status determination it was used, along with a constant catch approach based on landings, for determining the annual catch limits. With no clear evidence of overfishing in recent years the stock is considered to be recovering.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2004-2013 – 201,423 lbs./$522,048

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 88,242 lbs./$277,164 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2004-2013* – 17,141 lbs., 2013 – 9,994 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2004-2013** – 131, 2013** – 68

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) –The stock north of Cape Hatteras and south of the United States/Canada border is managed under the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)/Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) Interjurisdictional Fisheries Management Plan (FMP), adopted in 1988, and defers to ASMFC FMP compliance requirements. 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%. Amendment 15 (2011) formalized the process of addressing the scientific and management uncertainty when setting catch limits. Addendum XXV (2013) allows for the use of regional measures to manage the 2014 black sea bass recreational fishery. In 2014 the stock will be managed through a constant catch-based strategy based on landings and results of the 2012 stock assessment update. A new stock assessment is scheduled for 2016. Management measures include an annual coastwide quota.

Research and Data Needs – A consistent fishery-independent survey of black sea bass 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 fisheries, adult migration patterns.

2013 Regulations – Commercial: 11 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit. Recreational: 12 ½ inches TL minimum size limit, 15-fish bag limit (January 1-February 28), 20-fish bag limit (remainder of season).

Harvest Season – Commercial: Year round. Note: during the 2013 season, much of the North Carolina quota allocation was landed in Virginia and other states (as a quota transfer) due to shoaling of Oregon Inlet preventing access for many boats. These transferred landings are not reflected in the total landings in this report. Recreational: January 1-February 28; May 19-October 14; and November 1-December 31.

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 2004-2013 Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Juvenile black sea bass may use coastal ocean or higher salinity estuarine habitats. Adults change from female to male when they reach 9-13 inches. They migrate to spawn on the inner continental shelf between Virginia and Cape Cod in the winter and spring, moving to nearshore areas in the summer, possibly returning to the same coastal areas year after year. Adults tend to be structure oriented.

* harvest was split north and south of Hatteras based on county of landing
** includes citations statewide

For more information, contact Tom Wadsworth at Tom.Wadsworth@ncdenr.gov 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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