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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - BLACK SEA BASS South of Cape Hatteras

Marine Fisheries

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Black seabass

Black Sea Bass - South of Cape Hatteras

Stock StatusDepleted – Based on the 2006 revised South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) stock assessment, the spawning stock biomass is 27% of the SSBMSY (spawning stock biomass at maximum sustainable yield) and the rate of fishing (F) is 6.15*FMSY.  Since the southern stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing, reductions were enacted to reduce F and allow the stock to rebuild.  A new stock assessment is being conducted by the SAFMC and should be completed in December 2011. 

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2001–2010 – 394,137 lbs./$677,330

2010 Commercial Landings and Value – 293,574 lbs./$637,802

Average Recreational Landings 2001–2010* – 176,262 lbs., 2010*– 185,402 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (4 lbs.) 2001–2010* – 117, 2010* – 59

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. 

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 –Commercial: 10 inches TL. Recreational and commercial quota for the South Atlantic is 409,000 lbs and 309,000 lbs. gutted weight, respectively.  Recreational: 12 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit/5–fish bag limit.

Harvest Season – All year until quota is met. Both the recreational and commercial quota was reached in 2010/2011 fishing year resulting in seasonal closures.  

Size and Age at Maturity – 7.7 inches TL/1 year

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 10 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 Chip Collier at Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov  or 1-800-248–4536 or (910) 796–7215.
 

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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