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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 16 Kingfishes SSR 2013

Marine Fisheries

Kingfish / Mullet

Kingfish (Sea Mullet) - 2013

Stock Status - Unknown – A stock assessment has not been completed to determine the sustainability of kingfish stocks. In lieu of a stock assessment, trends in fishery dependent and independent data are tracked. Commercial and recreational landings in 2012 were below their 10-year average but increased from 2011. The majority of the commercial landings were landed in the ocean sink net fishery. The Pamlico Sound juvenile abundance index in 2012 was below the 10-year average. Additionally, three out of the past five years have had very high juvenile recruitment.

Average Commercial Landings and Value – 2003–2012 – 650,657 lbs./ $648,363

2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 596,249 lbs./$645,607

Average Recreational Landings 2003-2012 – 497,739 lbs., 2012 – 611,504 lbs

Average Number of Award Citations (1.5 lbs.) 2003-2012 – 268, 2012 - 279

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – The North Carolina FMP (2007) is available on the DMF web site. Two different stock assessments were attempted to determine sustainable harvest levels, but reviewers rejected the stock assessments due to deficiencies in the data. A major deficiency cited by all reviewers was the lack of migration (mixing) data to determine the movement of kingfishes along the North Carolina coast as well as the Atlantic coast.

Data and Research Needs – Studies to determine distribution, stock structure and composition of the three kingfish species found in North Carolina along with habitat use, migration studies (tagging), maturity (ongoing) and fecundity studies, age and growth studies (ongoing), validation of a juvenile abundance index, and a stock assessment. A stock assessment for the recently completed FMP was not included due to insufficient biological data for kingfishes.

2012 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

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 8 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – 2003-2012 – Pamlico Sound Survey – 4.9, 2012 – 2.8
 
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 Chip Collier at chip.collier@ncdenr.gov 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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