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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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Marine Fisheries - 04 Striped Bass Atlantic SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

Striped bass

Striped Bass - 2014

Atlantic Ocean Migratory Stock

Stock Status – Viable – The 2013 Atlantic striped bass benchmark assessment indicates the resource is not overfished or experiencing overfishing relative to the proposed new reference points. Although the stock is not overfished, female SSB has continued to decline since 2004 and is estimated at 128 million pounds just above the SSB threshold of 127 million pounds, and below the SSB target of 159 million pounds. Additionally, total fishing mortality is estimated at 0.20, a value that is between the proposed new fishing mortality threshold (0.22) and fishing mortality target (0.18). Atlantic striped bass experienced a period of strong recruitment (number of age-1 fish entering the population) from 1993-2003, followed by a period of lower recruitment from 2004-2009 (although not as low as the early 1980s, when the stock was overfished). The 2011 year-class was strong (i.e., abundant), but early observations from several states’ juvenile indices indicate the 2012 year class was very weak (i.e., low abundance). Projections of female SSB and fishing mortality suggest if the current fishing mortality rate (0.20) is maintained during 2013-2017, the probability of the stock being overfished (SSB less than the SSB threshold) is high and increases until 2015-2016, but declines thereafter. This trend is driven by the lack of strong year classes currently in the fishery, and the emergence of the strong 2011 year class that matures into the spawning stock in three to four years. Despite recent declines in SSB, the stock is still well above the SSB during the moratorium that was in place in the mid-1980s.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2004-2013 – 267,090 lbs./$546,585 (quota managed)

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 0 lbs./$0.00 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2004-2013 – 1,279,952 lbs., 2013 – 0 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations* (35 lbs. /45 inches^) 2004-2013 – 264 (76 releases), 2013 – 0 (0 releases)

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – Atlantic striped bass are currently included in the state’s Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to the ASMFC Atlantic Migratory Striped Bass FMP compliance requirements. Addendum I to Amendment 6 addresses bycatch concerns in all sectors of the striped bass fishery and was approved by the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board in November 2007. Addendum II revised the definition for striped bass recruitment failure and was passed by the Management Board in November 2010. Identifying periods of recruitment failure is the basis of the juvenile abundance index management trigger in Amendment 6. Addendum III was approved by the Management Board in August 2012, and includes measures to address illegal striped bass harvest. For more information about the status of the Atlantic Coastal Migratory Stocks visit the ASMFC website at www.asmfc.org.

Research and Data Needs – Increase accuracy of discard mortality estimates in all sectors of the fishery.

2013 Regulations – Commercial: The annual commercial quota is set at 480,480 lbs. Bag limits are set based on number of participants. The seasons are opened and closed by proclamation. Recreational: 28 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit, 2 fish daily creel limit. Reporting requirement for all fish recreationally harvested during May through October, from Ocracoke Inlet to Virginia state line. No reporting required south of Ocracoke Inlet.

Harvest Season – Opened and closed by proclamation for commercial. Open year round for recreational.

Size and Age at Maturity – Males: 12–22 inches/2–4 years; Females: 22–28 inches/5–8 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 35 years/35 years

Juvenile Abundance Index 2004–2013 – Hudson River – xxxx; Delaware River – xxxx; Chesapeake Bay Maryland – xxxx; Chesapeake Bay Virginia – xxxx, 2013 – Hudson River – xxxx; Delaware River – xxxx; Chesapeake Bay Maryland – xxxx; Chesapeake Bay Virginia – xxxx.

Habits and Habitats – Atlantic migratory striped bass are anadromous, spending the majority of their adult life stage in the waters of the estuaries and near shore ocean, migrating to fresh water to spawn in the spring. 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 until early June. 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 was the case in 2012 and 2013. The Atlantic migratory stock of striped bass originates principally from the Chesapeake Bay, followed by 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 in North Carolina. Other populations are found in the Tar/Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers, and are considered estuarine (non-anadromous).

*Includes ASMA, CSMA, and the Atlantic Ocean
^Citation release length requirement increased from 35 inches to 45 inches in 2008

For more information, contact Charlton Godwin at Charlton.Godwin@ncdenr.gov or 800-338-7805 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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