Atlantic Croaker - 2013
Stock Status – Concern – The 2010 benchmark assessment used data from both Mid- Atlantic and South Atlantic regions to produce a single, coast-wide assessment. The assessment indicates that Atlantic croaker is not experiencing overfishing and is likely not overfished. Absolute estimates of spawning stock biomass and fishing mortality were not given because of uncertainty in the assessment resulting from inadequate data on the magnitude of croaker discards in the South Atlantic shrimp trawl fishery. Trends in independent data indicate biomass has been increasing and more, older fish have been observed in the catch since the late 1980’s.
Average Commercial Landings and Value – 2003-2012 – 8,339,337 lbs./$3,099,191
2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 3,106,616 lbs./$2,135,458
Average Recreational Landings – 2003-2012 – 183,640 lbs., 2012– 105,541 lbs.
Average Number of Award Citations (3 lbs.) – 2003-2012 – 3, 2012 – 0
Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, Atlantic croaker is currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which in the case of Atlantic croaker, defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Atlantic Croaker Interstate FMP for compliance requirements. The initial ASMFC FMP was approved in 1987, with the most recent Amendment 1 approved in November 2005. The ASMFC approved Addendum I to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic croaker in 2011. The Addendum changes the management unit to one region (New Jersey through the east coast of Florida) and modifies the biological reference points used to assess stock condition.
Research and Data Needs – Develop fishery-dependent and independent size, age, and sex specific relative abundance estimates to monitor long term changes in Atlantic croaker abundance. Improve catch and effort statistics from the commercial and recreational fisheries, along with size and age structure of the catch. Conduct stock identification research on Atlantic croaker via otolith microchemistry, tagging, or genetics.
2012 Regulations – None
Harvest Season – Year round
Size and Age at Maturity – Males: 5-9 inches total length (TL)/ 2 – 3 years; Females: 7 -9 inches TL/2 – 3 years
Historical and Current Maximum Age – 15 years/15 years
Juvenile Abundance Index - 2003-2012 – 391, 2012 – 1,149 (P195 June sampling, croaker<140mm TL)
Habits and Habitats – Atlantic croaker inhabit mud and sand-bottom areas and feed chiefly on crustaceans, worms, mollusks, detritus, and small fishes. Atlantic croaker has a protracted spawning season with a peak during October in North Carolina. The pelagic eggs and recently hatched larvae drift toward land. Later, the advanced larval stages and juveniles continue their migration inshore by actively swimming into estuarine nursery areas. Maximum recruitment of juvenile fish is usually in the spring, with movement to offshore waters in the fall.
For more information, contact Jason Rock at Jason.Rock@ncdenr.gov or 800-338-7804 or 252 946-6481.