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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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Marine Fisheries - 05 Striped Bass CSMA SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Striped bass

Striped Bass — 2016

Central/Southern Management Area (CSMA)
 

Stock Status – Concern – The lack of adequate data causes the CSMA stocks (includes striped bass stocks south of Oregon Inlet, including the Tar/Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers) 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 Fishery Management Plan (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 spawning grounds in the spring, the percent hatchery contribution of stocked fish, as well as the potential negative impact of hybrid striped bass on the population.  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.  There are two geographic management units for the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP.  The CSMA stocks are located in the southern geographic management unit that includes all internal Coastal, Joint and contiguous Inland waters of North Carolina south of a line from Roanoke Marshes Point across to Eagle Nest Bay in Dare County, to the South Carolina state line.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 – 23,889 lb. / $60,536

2015 Commercial Landings and Value 27,744 lb. / $86,001 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – 10,275 lb., 2015 – 13,371 lb.

Average Number of Award Citations (35 lb. / 45 inches, includes ASMA, CSMA, and the Atlantic Ocean) 2006-2015 – 180 (159 kept, 21 released), 2015 – 0
(The citation requirement changed effective 2008 to allow for the release of live fish 45 inches or greater)

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Due to the non–migratory behavior of striped stocks within the CSMA, they are not included in Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commissions (ASMFC) Interstate FMP for Atlantic striped bass.  Instead, due to resident status, they are solely managed under the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass FMP.  It was adopted in 2004 by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission (NCMFC) and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to address the striped bass fisheries in all internal coastal waters of the state.  Amendment 1 to the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass FMP was approved by the NCMFC in February 2013 and NCWRC in May 2013.   Amendment 1 maintains the status quo for recreational and commercial harvest (including a targeted fishery) with two exceptions.  A quota overage payback for the commercial fishery was 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 fishery-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.  Determine the contribution of hatchery reared fish, through parentage-based tags, that are harvested from the recreational and commercial fisheries, as well as from fishery independent sampling.  Determine if striped bass are producing eggs that match the current flow regimes on the Tar/Pamlico and Neuse rivers.  Investigate why there is little to no natural recruitment of striped bass in the CSMA.

2015 Regulations – There is a harvest moratorium, for both the recreational and commercial fisheries, in the Cape Fear River and its tributaries.  Both commercial and recreational fishermen are subject to an 18-inch total length (TL) minimum size limit for striped bass within the CSMA.  As a protective measure, in joint and inland CSMA waters, it is unlawful to possess striped bass between 22 to 27 inches TL.  Recreational fishermen are subject to a two fish per person per day creel limit.  Commercial fishermen are subject to a 10 fish per person per day limit with a maximum of two limits per commercial operation. After the closure of the commercial harvest season through December 31, commercial fishermen are required to use a 3 foot tie down in large mesh (≥5-inch stretch mesh) gill nets in internal coastal fishing waters west of the 76° 28.0000’ W longitude line. They must also maintain a minimum distance from shore (DFS) of 50 yards for these nets upstream of the existing DFS line (see proclamation M-3-2015 for area descriptions). 

Harvest Season – Recreational CSMA harvest in Internal Coastal and Joint Waters is October 1 through April 30. The commercial season opens by proclamation and may occur between January 1 and April 30, and is closed by proclamation once the quota is reached (25,000 lbs.) or on April 30, whichever occurs first.

Size and Age at Maturity – Males: 12-18 inches TL / 2-3 years (based on ASMA stock, not known for CSMA stocks); Females: 18.4 inches TL / 2.67 years (based on the Tar/Pamlico and Neuse rivers stocks)

Maximum Age (based on ASMA stock, not known for CSMA stocks) – Males:
29 years; Female: 17 years

Juvenile Abundance Index –
Not Available

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 from late April until early June.  Striped bass tagging studies conducted within the CSMA indicated these stocks are riverine and endemic, and there are resident spawning stocks in each of the major river systems within the CSMA; the Tar/Pamlico, the Neuse, and the Cape Fear rivers.  Spawning grounds are not clearly defined in these systems as access to spawning areas may be influenced by river flows as well as impediments to migration.

For more information, contact Todd Mathes at Todd.Mathes@ncdenr.gov or 800-338-7804 or 252-948-3872.

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

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