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Marine Fisheries - 04 Striped Bass Atlantic 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Striped bass

Striped Bass — 2016

Atlantic Ocean Migratory Stock

Stock Status Viable –The 2015 Atlantic Striped Bass Stock Assessment Update utilizes catch and index data from 1982- 2014.

In 2014, the Atlantic striped bass stock was not overfished or experiencing overfishing based on the point estimates of fully-recruited fishing mortality (F) and female spawning stock biomass (SSB) relative to the reference points defined in this assessment. SSB was estimated at 63,918 metric tons (140 million pounds) which is above the SSB threshold of 57,626 metric tons, but below the SSB target of 72,032 metric tons. Total F was estimated at 0.205 which is below the F threshold of 0.219 but above the F target of 0.180. Commercial removals, i.e., landings plus dead discards, in 2013 and 2014 were estimated at 1,290,682 and 1,697,689 fish, respectively. Recreational removals, i.e., angler harvest plus dead releases, in 2013 and 2014 were estimated at 2,921,317 and 2,444,551, respectively. Total abundance increased to 195 million fish by 2012 due primarily to the abundant 2011 year-class from the Chesapeake Bay. Total abundance dropped in 2013 as the small 2012 year-class recruited to the population. In 2014, total abundance was estimated at 134 million fish. Abundance of age 8+ fish has declined since 2012 and is expected to drop slightly in 2015. According to the projections model, if a constant catch of 3,402,641 fish, i.e., 2015 harvest estimate plus the average commercial discards during 2010-2014, was maintained during 2015-2017, the probability of SSB falling below the threshold is 0.49 by 2015 and declines slightly thereafter. The fully-recruited F is expected to decrease to an average of 0.18 during 2015-2017 and there is little chance (less than 12%) that F would exceed the F threshold.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015–146,123lbs./$350,299 (quota managed)

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – 0 lbs./$0.00 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 796,641 lbs., 2015 0 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (35 lbs. /45 inches^) 2006-2015– 159 (releases – 21), 2015 – 0 (releases – 0)

(Includes ASMA, CSMA, and the Atlantic Ocean)
^Citation release length requirement increased from 35 inches to 45 inches in 2008
Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Atlantic striped bass are managed through ASMFC Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (February 2003) and its subsequent addenda (Addendum I-IV). The management program includes target and threshold biological reference points and sets regulations aimed at achieving the targets. In response to the results of the 2013 benchmark assessment indicating a steady decline in the spawning stock biomass, the Board approved Addendum IV in October 2014. The Addendum establishes new fishing mortality reference points (F target and threshold). In order to reduce F to a level at or below the new target, the coastal states are required to implement a 25% harvest reduction from 2013 levels, and the while Chesapeake Bay states/jurisdictions are required to implement a 20.5% harvest reduction from 2012 levels. These reductions went into effect January 2015.  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.

2015 Regulations – Commercial: The annual commercial quota is set at 360,360 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, 1 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 2006–2015 – Maine – 0.46; Hudson River – 18.04; Delaware River – 1.18; Chesapeake Bay Maryland – 4.28; Chesapeake Bay Virginia – 11.15, 2015 Maine – 0.04 Hudson River – 21.68; Delaware River – 0.94; Chesapeake Bay Maryland – 10.67; Chesapeake Bay Virginia – 12.00.

Habits and Habitats Striped bass are an estuarine species that can be found from Florida to Canada, although the stocks that the ASMFC manages range from Maine to North Carolina. A long-lived species (at least up to 30 years of age), Atlantic migratory striped bass typically spend the majority of their adult life in coastal estuaries or the ocean, migrating north and south seasonally and ascending to rivers to spawn in the spring. Mature females (age six and older) produce large quantities of eggs, which are fertilized by mature males (age two and older) as they are released into riverine spawning areas. While developing, the fertilized eggs drift with the downstream currents and eventually hatch into larvae. After their arrival in the nursery areas, located in river deltas and the inland portions of coastal sounds and estuaries, they mature into juveniles. They remain in coastal sounds and estuaries for two to four years and then join the coastal migratory population in the Atlantic Ocean. In the ocean, fish tend to move north during the summer and south during the winter. Important wintering grounds for the mixed stocks are located from offshore New Jersey to 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. With warming water temperatures in the spring, the mature adult fish migrate to riverine spawning areas to complete their life cycle. The majority of the coastal migratory stock originates in the Chesapeake Bay spawning areas, with significant contributions from the spawning grounds of the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. The Albemarle/Roanoke stock contributes minimally to the coastal migratory stock.

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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