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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Mullet / Kingfish - stock status report

Marine Fisheries

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Kingfish / Mullet

Kingfish (Mullet)

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 in 2010 were above their 10– year average. The majority of the commercial landings were landed in the ocean sink net fishery. Recreational fishery landings in 2010 were above their 10– year average. The Pamlico Sound juvenile abundance index in 2010 was almost two times the 10– year average. Additionally, four out of the past five years have had very high juvenile recruitment.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2001– 2010 – 663,469 lbs./$642,503

2010 Commercial Landings and Value – 886,841 lbs./$958,377

Average Recreational Landings 2001– 2010 – 342,173 lbs., 2010 – 469,702 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (1.5 lbs.) 2001– 2010 – 265, 2010 – 186

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – The N.C. FMP (2007) is available on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries 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 utilization, 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.

Current Regulations – None

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 2001– 2010 – Pamlico Sound Survey – 5.1, 2010 – 9.6
            
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 Chip Collier at Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov or 1-800-248-4536 or (910) 796– 7215).

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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