King Mackerel - 2013
Stock Status – Concern – Based on the 2008 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council stock assessment, the South Atlantic king mackerel stock is not overfished. It is uncertain whether overfishing is occurring; however, if it is, it is occurring at a low level. A new assessment is scheduled for 2013.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003 – 2012 – 805,859 lbs./$1,459,484
2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 296,617 lbs./$829,518 (quota managed)
Average Recreational Landings 2003 – 2012 – 1,051,608 lbs., 2012 – 333,600 lbs.
Average Number of Award Citations (30 lbs. or 45– inches) 2003– 2012 – 192, 2012 – 112
Status of Fisheries Management Plan – In North Carolina, king mackerel are currently included in the Interjurisdictional Fishery Management Plan, which defers to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council compliance requirements and is currently managed under Amendment 18 (2011) to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. The amendment established annual catch limits, annual catch targets and accountability measures for South Atlantic king mackerel. Management measures include commercial and recreational quotas, minimum size limits, commercial trip limits, recreational bag limits, gear restrictions and commercial permit moratorium. Charter/headboat operators must possess a charter/headboat vessel permit for coastal migratory pelagics and must comply with recreational bag limits.
Research and Data Needs – Bycatch mortality estimates in the directed shrimp fishery, fishery independent methods of monitoring stock size and estimates of Atlantic and Gulf stock mixing rates in south Florida
2012 Regulations – 24 inches fork length (FL), 3 fish/day for recreational anglers; 3,500-pound commercial trip limit
Harvest Season – Open year round, based on a fishing year spanning April 1 to March 31 – Commercial and recreational fisheries can close when the total allowable catch is reached.
Size and Age at Maturity – 28 inches FL/2–3 years
Historical and Current Maximum Age – 26 years/23 years
Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available
Habits and Habitats – King mackerel are considered coastal pelagic, meaning they live in the open waters near the coast. They make inshore and offshore migrations triggered by water temperature and prey availability. In the winter and early spring, king mackerel congregate just inside the Gulf Stream along the edge of the Continental Shelf. During the summer and fall, they move inshore along the beaches and near the mouths of inlets and coastal rivers. They prefer water temperatures between 68º and 78º F.
^Citation release length requirement reduced from 50 inches to 45 inches in 2008
For more information, contact Randy Gregory at Randy.Gregory@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-726-7021.