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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 05 Striped Bass CSMA SSR 2013

Marine Fisheries

Striped bass

Striped Bass - 2013

Central/Southern Management Area (CSMA)


Stock Status – Concern – The lack of adequate data causes the CSMA stocks to be quantitatively assessed as unknown and to be listed as “concern”. The need for continued conservation management efforts are supported by the truncated size and age distributions, low overall abundance, and the absence of older fish in the spawning ground surveys. Since the 2004 FMP, there has been little change in the size and age distribution with few age 6 and older fish observed in any system. A major cause for concern over striped bass in the CSMA involves environmental conditions on the upper river spawning grounds in the spring. Dams blocking access to spawning habitat and low water flow associated with droughts, municipal withdrawals, and electrical power production frequently limit the spawning success of this species. Due to lack of funding, there are dependent and independent data that must be collected before an accurate stock assessment can be made.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003–2012 – 25,642 lbs./$50,302

2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 22,725 lbs./$51,958 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2004–2012 – 10,238 lbs., 2012 – 15,007 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (35 lbs./45 inches^) 2003–2012*– 305 (98 releases), 2012*–2 (0 releases)

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – The N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass FMP was adopted in 2004 by the N. C. Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) and N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) to address the striped bass fisheries in all internal coastal waters of the state. Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan was approved by the MFC in February, 2013 and WRC in May 2013. Amendment 1 will maintain the status quo for recreational and commercial harvest with two exceptions. A quota overage payback for the commercial fishery will be implemented and effective for the 2014 fishing season. Also a rule was modified to remove the prohibition on the sale and purchase of striped bass taken by hook-and-line gear. This will not automatically authorize the use of hook-and-line gear in the commercial striped bass fishery, but it will permit issuance of a proclamation to allow the use of this gear at some future date.

Research and Data Needs – Expand commercial, recreational, and independent sampling in the CSMA. Determine system of origin of fish on the spawning grounds, maturation schedule, and determine age structure of striped bass in the CSMA.

2012 Regulations – No commercial or recreational harvest in the Cape Fear River and tributaries. Commercial and recreational 18 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit,
Commercial quota of 25,000 lbs. during a spring season (March–April); season opens and closes by proclamation.
Recreational CSMA internal coastal waters: 2–fish limit
Recreational CSMA joint waters: 22–27 inches TL prohibition/ 2-fish limit

Harvest Season – Recreational CSMA internal coastal and joint waters – October 1 through April 30; Commercial spring season only, by proclamation anytime between January 1 through April 30.

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

Historical and Current Maximum Age** – 29 years/17 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available for CSMA

Habits and Habitats – Striped bass are anadromous, spending the majority of their adult life in the waters of the estuaries and nearshore 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 years with mild winters, they may not migrate all the way down into North Carolina waters, as was the case in 2012. These striped bass originate principally from the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware and Hudson river systems. 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. 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 requirement changes effective 2008
** Based on ASMA stock, not known for CSMA stocks

For more information on CSMA striped bass, contact Garry Wright at Garry.Wright@ncdenr.gov or 800-338–7804 or 252-946–6481.

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

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