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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 07 Sheepshead SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

Sheepshead

Sheepshead — 2015

Stock Status – Unknown– Sheepshead are a highly sought after recreational fish and captured in many commercial fisheries. In North Carolina, the commercial landings in 2014 were above the ten year average, while the recreational landings decreased 45% from the ten year average. For recreationally caught sheepshead in 2014, the mean length was 13 inches and the average fish weighed 2.3 pounds.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2005-2014 – 115,211 lbs./$81,366

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 173,367 lbs./$159,266

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 321,666 lbs., 2014 – 143,782 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (8 lbs.) 2005-2014 109, 2014 – 201

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, update maturity schedule, develop biological reference points, tagging study to determine migration patterns, juvenile and adult abundance indices, and stock assessment to determine sustainability.

2014 Regulations – None for 2014. In 2015, the Marine Fisheries Commission implemented a 10 inch (FL) minimum size limit with various recreational and commercial bag/trip limits through the Director’s proclamation authority.

Harvest Season – Open all year

Size and Age at Maturity – 10 inches FL/ 2 years – L-50
14 inches FL/ 3 years – L-100

Historical and Current Maximum Age 23 years / 27 years in North Carolina (unpublished)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 (800-248-4536 or 910-796-7289).

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

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