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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 16 Kingfishes SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

Kingfish / Mullet

Kingfish (Sea Mullet) - 2014

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 landings were below their 10-year average, while the recreational landings were above their 10-year average. The majority of the commercial landings occurred in the ocean sink net fishery. The Pamlico Sound juvenile abundance index in 2013 was above the 10-year average. Additionally, three out of the past five years have had very high juvenile recruitment.

Average Commercial Landings/Value 2004-2013 – 645,492 lbs./$650,302

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 600,980 lbs./$666,041

Average Recreational Landings 2004-2013 – 495,281 lbs., 2013 – 657,148 lbs. *

Average Number of Award Citations (1.5 lbs.) 2004-2013 – 274, 2013 - 284

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 data. The FMP is currently under review by the NCDMF.

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.

2013 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 – 2004-2013 – Pamlico Sound Survey – 5.5, 2013 – 8.8

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 Beth Egbert at Beth.Egbert@ncdenr.gov or 252-473-5734.

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

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