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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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

Marine Fisheries

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Striped Bass

Central/Southern Management Area (CSMA)


Stock Status – Concern – Stocks lack a quantified stock assessment, and show a truncated size and age distribution, lacking age classes of older fish. 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 2001–2010 – 26,754 lbs./$45,324

2010 Commercial Landings and Value – 23,476 lbs./$54,696 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2004–2010 – 9,714 lbs., 2010 – 5,537 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (35 lbs./45 inches^) 2001–2010*– 345 (146 releases), 2010*–166 (63 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 and N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission to address the striped bass fisheries in all internal coastal waters of the state. Development of Amendment 1 to the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass FMP is currently underway with a target effective date for any new measures of summer 2013.

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

Current Regulations
No 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/ gear restrictions
Recreational CSMA joint waters: 22–27 inches TL prohibition/ 2 fish bag limit/ gear restrictions

Harvest Season – Recreational CSMA internal coastal and joint waters – October 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/ 18 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available for CSMA
Habits and Habitats – Striped bass are anadromous, spending the majority of their adult life in the near–shore ocean and estuarine waters, migrating upstream 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 often over–winters off the Outer Banks. The Albemarle Sound–Roanoke River area supports the largest spawning population in North Carolina. The CSMA populations are found in the Neuse, Tar/Pamlico, and Cape Fear rivers.

*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 Katy West at Katy.West@ncdenr.gov or 1-800-338–7804 or (252) 948–3884.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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