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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 2015

Marine Fisheries

Black seabass

Black Sea Bass — South of Cape Hatteras — 2015

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 2005-2014 – 297,138 lbs./$622,291

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 312,078 lbs./$622,291

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 123,759 lbs., 2014 – 75,505 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2005-2014* – 126, 2014* – 74

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.

2014 Regulations – recreational: minimum size limit increased to 13 inches (TL) in June 2014/5-fish recreational bag limit; commercial: 11 inches minimum size limit TL, 1,000 lbs. (gutted weight) or 1,180 lbs. (whole weight) trip limit for hook-and-line gear from May 1 to December 31, 300 lbs. (gutted weight) or 354 lbs. (whole weight) trip limit for hook and line gear for January 1 to April 30, 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 lbs. whole weight, respectively. The use of non-stainless circle hooks with natural baits is required for hook and line fisheries.

Harvest Season – The recreational fishing season opens June 1, 2015 and remains open until March 31, 2015 or until the quota is projected to be met. The commercial hook and line fishing season opens January 1, 2015 and remains open until December 31, 2015 or until the quota is projected to be met. The commercial pot fishery opens June 1, 2015 and closes October 31, 2015 annually to minimize right whale interactions. The 2013-2014 recreational fishing season opened June 1, 2013 and closed May 31, 2014 with 56% of the quota landed. The 2013-2014 commercial fishing season opened June 1, 2013 and closed May 31, 2014 with 99.6% of the quota landed. The 2014 commercial pot fishery re-opened on May 1 and the hook and line fishing season re-opened June 1 and closed December 31 with 27.2% of the quota landed.

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 Chris Stewart at Chris.Stewart@ncdenr.net  or 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7370.

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