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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 2013

Marine Fisheries

Black seabass

Black Sea Bass - South of Cape Hatteras - 2013

Stock Status – Viable – Based on the 2013 South Atlantic stock assessment, SEDAR 25 Update, the spawning stock biomass is rebuilt to the target set forth in the 2006 assessment and overfishing was not occurring. The South Atlantic stock met its rebuilding target prior to the 2016 deadline. Quotas will be increased for the 2013/2014 fishing season for both recreational and commercial fisheries.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003-2012 – 340,075 lbs./$630,676

2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 194,778 lbs./$490,770

Average Recreational Landings 2004-2012*
– 165,046 lbs., 2012*– 120,457 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2003-2012** – 140, 2012** - 74

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.

2012 Regulations – Recreational: minimum size limit increased to 13 inches (TL) in June 2012/5-fish bag limit; commercial: 11 inches minimum size limit TL, 1,180 lbs trip limit, 2 inch mesh back panel for black sea bass pots, maximum 35 pots on board vessel, all pots must be removed from water when vessel returns to port. Recreational and commercial quota for the South Atlantic was 409,000 lbs and 309,000 lbs gutted weight, respectively. The South Atlantic black sea bass quota increased in 2013.

Harvest Season – Fishing season opened June 1, 2012 for recreational and July 1, 2012 for commercial and remained open until quota was met. Recreational quota was reached in September and commercial quota was reached in October. Both the recreational and commercial quota was reached in 2010/2011, 2011/2012, and 2012/2013 fishing years 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.

* 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 Chip Collier at chip.collier@ncdenr.net or 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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