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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 16 Kingfishes SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

Kingfish / Mullet

Kingfish (Sea Mullet) — 2015

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 2014 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 2005-2014 684,173 lbs./$701,926

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 952,263 lbs./$1,004,523

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 494,395 lbs., 2013 – 646,948 lbs. *

Average Number of Award Citations (1.5 lbs.) 2005-2014 – 282, 2014 - 289

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – The North Carolina FMP (2007) is available on the DMF web site. The FMP is currently undergoing an information update in 2015.

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.

2014 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 2005-2014 – Pamlico Sound Survey (September) – 5, 2014 – 6.6

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 (252-473-5734).

*Includes unspecified kingfish with an estimated weight of 0.45 lbs per fish.

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

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