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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 16 Kingfish-Sea Mullet SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Kingfish / Mullet

Kingfish (Sea Mullet) — 2016

Stock Status Viable – A stock assessment is not available to determine the sustainability of kingfish stocks. In lieu of a stock assessment, trend analyses with management triggers are used to monitor stock conditions and advise management on the potential need for regulations. Trends monitored include relative fishing mortality and several fishery independent indices for both adult and juvenile kingfish. No management triggers were tripped in the 2015 trend analyses update and the stock is considered viable. Commercial and recreational landings were above their 10-year average. The majority of the commercial landings occurred in the ocean sink net fishery.

Average Commercial Landings/Value 2006-2015 733,479 lbs./$760,600

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – 786,515 lbs./$855,502

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – 533,805 lbs., 2015 – 792,623 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (1.5 lbs.) 2006-2015 – 279, 2015 - 271

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – The North Carolina FMP (2007) is available on the DMF web site. The plan established the use of trend analysis and management triggers to monitor the viability of the stock. An information update to the FMP was completed in 2015. The best available data and techniques used for the trend analysis and management triggers were refined and modified to better assess population trends as part of this FMP Information Update.

Data and Research Needs – Studies to determine distribution, stock structure and composition of the three kingfish species found in North Carolina, habitat utilization, migration studies (tagging), maturity (ongoing) and fecundity studies, age and growth studies (ongoing), validation of a juvenile abundance index, and a stock assessment.

2015 Regulations – For shrimp or crab trawls, three-hundred-pound trip limit for kingfishes south of Bogue Inlet from December 1 through March 31.

Harvest Season – Year round

Size and Age at maturity – 7-9 inches total length (TL)/1 year

Maximum Age – 9 years

Juvenile Abundance Index (number of fish per tow) 2006-2015 – Pamlico Sound Survey (September) – 12.7, 2015 – 6.9

Habits and Habitats – Kingfishes, also known as sea mullet, Virginia mullet, whiting and roundhead, include three species in North Carolina; southern, northern, and Gulf. The southern kingfish is the most abundant of the three species and prefers mud or sand-mud bottom types like the northern kingfish. Gulf kingfish prefer the sandy bottoms of the surf zone. Kingfishes move from estuarine and nearshore ocean waters to deeper offshore waters as water temperature cools. Spawning takes place in the ocean from April to October.

For more information, contact Kevin Brown at Kevin.H.Brown@ncdenr.gov (252-808-8089).

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

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