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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 09 Dolphin SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Dolphin fish / mahi mahi

Dolphin - 2016

Stock Status Viable – The status of dolphin is based on trends in landings data.  The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan is currently managed under recent Amendment 8 (2016). Amendment 8 revises commercial and recreational sector allocations for dolphin in the Atlantic.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 – 293,471 lbs./$684,587

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – 320,961 lbs./$948,268 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – 3,166,023 lbs., 2015 – 3,170,590 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (35 lbs.) 2006-2015 220, 2015 – 171

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – Dolphin is currently included in the North Carolina Interjurisdictional Fishery Management Plan, which defers to management measures contained in the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan of the Atlantic States.  The management unit for this fishery management plan is the population of dolphin from the U.S. South Atlantic, the Mid-Atlantic, and the New England coasts. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a Fishery Management Plan for dolphin in 2004 and the fishery is currently managed under recent Amendment 8 (2016).

Research and Data Needs – Stock identification studies, migration, diet, batch fecundity, direct validation through mark and recapture to confirm scale annuli, collection of small, fishery–independent samples to accurately describe first year growth rates.

2015 Regulations – 10 fish/day for recreational anglers, with a maximum daily private/charter vessel limit of 60 fish/boat; no recreational sale; permits required for charter and commercial vessels.

Harvest Season – Open year round; landings are seasonal

Size and Age at Maturity – 23 inches total length (TL)/4–6 months

Maximum Age – 4 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Dolphin are a coastal/oceanic highly migratory pelagic species.  The current hypothesis suggests dolphin migrate from the central Caribbean through the mid-Atlantic to Bermuda and back to the central Caribbean, however the occurrence of year-round dolphin off the coast of North Carolina suggest dolphin likely have a more complex stock structure than originally thought.  Dolphin are extremely fast growing (3.78 mm/day in the first 6 months), mature early, and have a protracted spawning season (year round, with highest levels from January through June).

For more information, contact Randy Gregory at Randy.Gregory@ncdenr.gov or 800-682–2632 or 252-726–7021.

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

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