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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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Marine Fisheries - 01 Black Sea Bass NOH SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

black seabass

Black Sea Bass — North of Cape Hatteras — 2015

Stock Status – Concern The stock was declared rebuilt in 2009 based on the 2008 stock assessment for U.S. waters north of Cape Hatteras. However, due to unique life history characteristics (e.g., the species changes sex from female to male) and other data concerns, the 2011 and 2012 assessments were not accepted for stock status determination. Currently, the 2012 assessment is being used to manage the stock under a constant catch strategy. Although the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) considers the stock to be rebuilt, concerns remain due to uncertainty in recent stock assessments and low landings in North Carolina waters.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2005-2014 – 179,543 lbs./ $540,966

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 210,989 lbs./ $632,813 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014* – 16,782 lbs., 2014 – 1,570 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2004-2014** – 126, 2014** – 74

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 (February 2014) allowed for the use of regional measures to manage the 2014 black sea bass recreational fishery. In 2015 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.

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.

2014 Regulations – Commercial: 11 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit. Recreational: 12 ½ inches TL minimum size limit, 15-fish bag limit.

Harvest Season – Commercial: Year round with variable harvest limits by gear and time-period. Recreational: May 19 - September 18 and October 18 - 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 2005-2014 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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