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Marine Fisheries - 03 Striped Bass ASMA-RRMA-AR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Striped bass

Striped Bass — 2016

Albemarle Sound Management Area (ASMA) and Roanoke River Management Area (RRMA) stock (Albemarle/Roanoke stock)
 

Stock Status Concern – The 2014 Albemarle/Roanoke (A/R) striped bass benchmark stock assessment (includes striped bass from the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River stock– data through 2012) indicates the resource is not overfished or experiencing overfishing relative to the new reference points. Although the stock is not overfished, female spawning stock biomass has declined steadily since its peak in 2003, and is estimated at 835,462 lbs, just above the threshold of 772,588 lbs. Landings in all sectors have also continued to decline since the peak in 2004. Additionally, fishing mortality is estimated at 0.34, just above the target of 0.33.

Albemarle/Roanoke striped bass experienced a period of strong recruitment (number of 1-year old fish entering the population) from 1994-2001, followed by a period of lower recruitment from 2002-2013, including several years (e.g. 2003, 2004, 2009, and 2013) that are considered spawning failures. The spawning failures were due to environmental conditions rather than inadequate spawning stock biomass, which is currently much higher than in 1993 when the period of record breaking recruitment occurred.  The Albemarle/Roanoke striped bass have experienced a spawning success in the 2014 and 2015 year classes with very strong recruitment of 1 year olds coming into the system.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 – ASMA –123,167lbs./$316,843 (quota managed)

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – ASMA –111,512 lbs./$352,432 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – ASMA – 35,115 lbs. (quota managed)
RRMA – 60,156 lbs. (quota managed)

2015 Recreational Landings ASMA – 62,376 lbs. (quota managed)
RRMA – 58,962 lbs. (quota managed)

Average Number of Award Citations (35 lbs./45 inches) 2006-2015 – 159, 2015 – 0

Includes ASMA, CSMA, and the Atlantic Ocean.  The majority of citations come from the Atlantic Ocean. Citation release length requirement increased from 35 inches to 45 inches in 2008.

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – Albemarle/Roanoke striped bass are included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, but the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission also has a state FMP for estuarine striped bass. Amendment 1 to the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass FMP was approved by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission in February of 2013 and by the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission in May 2013.  The rules became effective for the respective Commissions June 1 and August 1, 2013.

Stock projections from the 2014 benchmark assessment indicated harvest at the quota approved in Amendment 1 (550,000 lbs) was unsustainable at recent levels of recruitment. Projections suggested a quota of 275,000 lbs would maintain fishing mortality and spawning stock biomass at the new reference points. Based on this information the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission approved a revision to Amendment 1 in November 2014. The November 2014 Revision to Amendment 1 to the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass FMP sets the harvest quota at 275,000 lbs to be split evenly between commercial and recreational sectors, effective January 1, 2015.

Research and Data Needs Delayed release mortality estimates for various gears, tag reporting information, and improved age–1 abundance estimates.  The previous research need of an updated maturation schedule for the A/R stock was completed in 2012 and a study to estimate tag reporting information is ongoing.

2015 Regulations – ASMA Commercial: 18 inches TL minimum size limit and daily landing limit set by proclamation.  Annual commercial quota set at 137,500 lbs.  ASMA Recreational: 18 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit in coastal, joint and inland waters, three fish daily creel limit. Annual ASMA recreational quota set at 137,500 lbs.  RRMA Recreational: 18 inches TL minimum size limit and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches in the RRMA.  Two fish daily creel limit and only one fish in the daily creel may be greater than 27 inches TL recreational. Annual RRMA recreational quota set at 137,500 lbs. The RRMA is closed to commercial harvest. As of January 1, 2015, the quotas for all sectors were reduced by half.

Harvest Season – ASMA Recreational: Spring (January 1 – April 30); Fall (October 1 – December 31). ASMA Commercial: Spring (January 1 – April 30); Fall (October 1 – December 31). RRMA: March 1 – April 30.

Size and Age at Maturity Males: 12-18 inches/2-3 years; Females: 18-24 inches/3-6 years

Maximum Age 29 years

Juvenile Abundance Index (number of fish per tow) 2006-2015 Juvenile Anadromous Survey (Albemarle Sound July – October) – 8.6, 2015 – 15.6

Habits and Habitats – Albemarle/Roanoke (A/R) striped bass are anadromous, spending the majority of their adult life in the waters of the sounds, estuaries, and nearshore ocean, migrating to fresh water to spawn in the spring.  The major spawning grounds for the A/R striped bass stock are located on the Roanoke River in the vicinity of Weldon, NC. Striped bass require flowing, fresh water habitats in order to spawn successfully, allowing the eggs to remain suspended until they hatch, and to transport larvae to the nursery areas.  Spawning takes place during late April through May.  North Carolina is host to several different stocks of striped bass.  One is the Atlantic migratory stock that over-winters off southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.  In some years, they may not migrate all the way down into North Carolina waters, or they may be more than 3 miles offshore and unavailable to harvest, as has been the case since 2012.  The Atlantic migratory mixed stock of striped bass is made up of fish principally spawned in the Chesapeake Bay, followed by spawning stocks in the Delaware and Hudson river systems, with minimal contribution from the A/R stock.  They remain in their natal systems from two to three years then begin migrating along the Atlantic coast, northward in the summer and southward during the winter. Females are more migratory than males.  The Albemarle Sound-Roanoke River area supports the largest spawning population of striped bass in North Carolina.  Other spawning populations are found in the Tar/Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers. These stocks are considered estuarine (non-anadromous), and do not undergo extensive ocean migrations.

For more information, contact Sean Patrick Darsee at Sean.Darsee@ncdenr.gov or 252-264–3911.

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

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