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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 02 Black Sea Bass SOH SSR 2012

Marine Fisheries

Black seabass

Black Sea Bass - South of Cape Hatteras - 2012

Stock Status – Recovering from Depleted - Based on the 2011 South Atlantic stock assessment, SEDAR 25, the spawning stock biomass is approaching (but has not achieved) the target set forth in the 2006 assessment but the stock is longer overfished. Overfishing was still occurring according to the 2011 assessment but at low, uncertain levels (1.07). Quotas established for the recreational and commercial fisheries should enable the South Atlantic stock to meet the rebuilding target prior to the 2016 deadline.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2002-2011 – 363,803 lbs./ $639,860

2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 174,649 lbs./ $354,474

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 Plans (FMP) - In North Carolina, the stock of black sea bass found south of Cape Hatteras are currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to SAFMC FMP compliance requirements. Amendment 13C was approved by SAFMC in December 2005 and became effective in October 2006. It established a commercial quota and additional pot restrictions as well as recreational allocation and increased the recreational minimum size and reduced the bag limit. Accountability measures and annual catch limits were developed in Amendment 17B. Amendment 18A will introduce additional restrictions including the higher size limits described below.

Research and Data Needs - Continue monitoring of catches, continue federal tagging projects, develop age information, alternative biological reference points, juvenile abundance index is needed, and determine if stock structure exists.

Current Regulations – recreational: 12 inches (TL) minimum size/5-fish bag limit but will increase to 13 inches in June 2012; commercial: 11 inches (TL). Recreational and commercial quota for the South Atlantic is 409,000 lbs and 309,000 pounds gutted weight, respectively.

Harvest Season – Fishing season opens June 1 for recreational and July 1 for commercial and remains open until quota is met. Both the recreational and commercial quota was reached in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 fishing year resulting in seasonal closures.

Size and Age at Maturity - 7.7 inches TL/1 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age - 11 years / 11 years

Juvenile Abundance Index - not available

Habits and Habitats - Black sea bass north and south of Cape Hatteras are recognized as different stocks. South Atlantic black sea bass spawn throughout the spring and summer with a peak spawn from March through May. Also black sea bass change sex from female to male between the ages of 2 years and 5 years old. Black sea bass spawn offshore and the eggs and larvae recruit into the estuaries and nearshore reefs. As the fish get older they tend to migrate to deeper water where they inhabit irregular hard-bottom areas such as wrecks, artificial reefs, reef and rock outcroppings. Unlike the northern stock, seasonal migration of black sea bass has not been documented in tagging studies.

*Includes black sea bass landed north and south of Cape Hatteras.
 
For more information, email Chip Collier at Chip.Collier@ncdenr.net or call 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7215.

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

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