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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 02 Black Sea Bass SOH SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

Black seabass

Black Sea Bass - South of Cape Hatteras - 2014

Stock Status – Viable– Based on the 2013 South Atlantic stock assessment, SEDAR 25, 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 were increased for the 2013/2014 fishing season for both recreational and commercial fisheries.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2004-2013 – 316,566 lbs./$619,741

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 241,403 lbs./$591,639

Average Recreational Landings 2004-2013 – 174,158 lbs., 2013 – 82,191 lbs. *

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2004-2013 – 130, 2013 – 68 *

Status of Fishery Management Plan (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 the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (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 a recreational allocation, an increased the recreational minimum size and a reduced the bag limit. Accountability measures and annual catch limits were developed in Amendment 17B. Amendment 18A increased size limit for black sea bass and established an endorsement program for the commercial fishery with a trip limit.

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

2013 Regulations – recreational: minimum size limit increased to 13 inches (TL) in June 2013/5-fish recreational 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 1,033,980 lbs and 780,020 pounds whole weight, respectively. The use of non-stainless circle hooks is required for hook-and-line fisheries.

Harvest Season – Fishing season opens June 1 for recreational and commercial fisheries and remained open until quota is projected to be 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, 2011/2013, and 2013/2013 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.

*Includes black sea bass landed north and south of Cape Hatteras.

For more information, contact Michelle Duval at Michelle.Duval@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-726-7021.

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

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