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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 17 King Mackerel SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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King Mackerel

King Mackerel — 2016

Stock Status Viable – Based on the 2014 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council stock assessment, the South Atlantic king mackerel stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 638,040 lbs./$1,262,417

2015 Commercial Landings and Value 391,774 lbs./$786,938 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 771,598 lbs., 2015 320,388 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (30 lbs./45 in.) 2006-2015 – 188, 2015 – 312 (308 kept, 4 released)

Status of Fishery 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 management measures and is currently managed under recent Amendments 20A (2014) and 20B (2015) to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. The management unit for the South Atlantic king mackerel stock is the population from the Florida Keys to the New England coast. Amendment 20A prohibits the sale of all bag-limit-caught king mackerel, except those harvested during a state-permitted tournament. Amendment 20B establishes separate commercial quotas of Atlantic king mackerel for a Northern Zone (north of North Carolina/South Carolina line) and Southern Zone (south of North Carolina/South Carolina line). The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is currently developing Amendment 26 to update the Atlantic king mackerel annual catch limits and adjust the mixing zone based on the results of the 2014 stock assessment, and to provide an incidental catch allowance of Atlantic king mackerel in the small coastal shark gillnet fishery.

Research and Data Needs – Bycatch mortality estimates in the directed shrimp fishery, fishery independent methods of monitoring stock size, juvenile abundance indices and estimates of Atlantic and Gulf stock mixing rates in south Florida

2015 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 March 1 to February 28/29 – Commercial and recreational fisheries can close when the total allowable catch is reached.

Size and Age at Maturity – 28 inches FL/2–3 years

Maximum Age – 26 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.

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

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