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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 06 Bluefish SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

Bluefish

Bluefish — 2015

Stock Status – Viable – Bluefish are not experiencing overfishing, and are not overfished. Fishing mortality has steadily declined since 1991, with biomass estimates increasing from 1997 to 2006, followed by a decline from 2007 to 2014.  The stock assessment defines the management unit as bluefish occurring in U.S. waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and is considered a single stock of fish.  A new benchmark stock assessment is scheduled for completion at the beginning of July 2015.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2005-2014 – 2,129,998 lbs./$757,836

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 2,019,154 lbs./$ 889,681 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 1,095,638 lbs., 2014 – 961,222 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (15 lbs.^) 2005-2014 – 5, 2014 – 3

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, bluefish are included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission/Mid–Atlantic Fisheries Management Council FMP compliance requirements.  The FMP allows an annually adjusted, state-by-state commercial quota system and recreational harvest limits to reduce fishing mortality.  The 2014 stock assessment update (using 2013 catch data) indicate that bluefish are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, based on the biological reference points developed for review by the 2005 Stock Assessment Review Committee.  Estimates from the model using state and federal indices show a decreasing trend in fishing mortality, an increasing trend in population biomass, and an increasing trend in population numbers from 1997 to 2006 followed by a decline in population biomass from 2007 (86 million fish) to 2014 (59 million fish).

Research and Data Needs – Fishery-independent data, commercial bycatch and recreational release mortality estimates, exploration of alternative assessment models since the highly migratory nature of bluefish populations and the recruitment dynamics of the species create a unique modeling situation.

2014 Regulations –Recreational: 15 fish/day.  Only five fish of the 15 fish limit can be greater than 24 inches total length.

Harvest Season – Open year round (commercial season closes if quota is met)

Size and Age at Maturity – 13 inches fork length/2 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 14 years/12 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Bluefish are pelagic and important to saltwater fishermen throughout the world.  Bluefish school by size and make seasonal migrations north in the spring and south in winter.  Large fish tend to congregate in the northern part of the range.  There are two spawning groups, one that spawns at sea during the spring and the other spawns at sea in the summer.  The success of the spring cohort may control the abundance of adult bluefish.

^Citation weight requirement reduced from 17 lbs. to 15 lbs. in 2008

For more information, contact Beth Egbert at Beth.Egbert@ncdenr.gov or 252-473–5734.

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

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