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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 07 Sheepshead SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

Sheepshead

Sheepshead - 2014

Stock Status – Unknown – Sheepshead are a highly sought after recreational fish and captured in many commercial fisheries. The commercial and recreational landings in 2013 were above the ten year average. From 2003 to 2013, greater than 60% of the harvest is smaller than 15 inches total length and less than 3 pounds.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2004-2013 – 106,050 lbs./$68,575

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 179,969 lbs./$145,674

Average Recreational Landings 2004-2013 – 334,320 lbs., 2013 – 497,616 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (8 lbs.) 2004-2013 – 91, 2013 – 154

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – No fishery management plan has been developed. Sheepshead were removed from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (SAFMC) Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan in 2012.

Research and Data Needs – Continue monitoring of recreational and commercial catches, collect aging structures, updated maturity schedule, develop biological reference points, tagging study to determine migration patterns, juvenile and adult abundance indices, and stock assessment to determine sustainability.

2013 Regulations – None. North Carolina has proclamation authority to establish regulations on sheepshead if deemed necessary.

Harvest Season – Open all year

Size and Age at Maturity – 11 inches TL/ 2 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 23 years / 27 years in North Carolina (unpublished)

Juvenile Abundance Index – not available

Habits and Habitats – Sheepshead are found in coastal waters year-round in North Carolina waters based on recreational catches. Sheepshead are generally found from inshore brackish waters to offshore around rock and hard substrate. During the winter, adult sheepshead migrate to oceanic waters to spawn. Spawning occurs February through May. After the spawning season, sheepshead typically return to inshore waters.

For more information, contact Stephen Taylor at Stephen.Taylor@ncdenr.gov or 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7215.

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

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