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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 18 Spanish Mackerel SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel — 2016

Stock Status – Viable – Based on the 2012 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) stock assessment, the Spanish mackerel stock in the South Atlantic is not overfished and is not undergoing overfishing.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 689,143 lbs./$967,576

2015 Commercial Landings and Value 561,423 lbs./$1,016,209 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 620,890 lbs., 2015 431,082 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (6 lbs.) 2006-2015 112, 2015 119

Status of Fishery Management Plan – In North Carolina, Spanish mackerel are currently included in the Interjurisdictional Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which defers to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council management measures and is currently managed under recent Amendments 20B (2015) and Framework Amendment 1 (2014) to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 20B establishes separate commercial quotas of Atlantic Spanish mackerel for a Northern Zone (north of North Carolina/South Carolina line) and Southern Zone (south of North Carolina/South Carolina line NC/SC line). Framework Amendment 1 modifies the annual catch limits for Atlantic Spanish mackerel and modifies the recreational annual catch target, based on the results of the most recent stock assessments for these stocks.

Research and Data Needs Bycatch mortality estimates in the directed shrimp fishery, fishery-independent methods of monitoring stock size, juvenile abundance indices.

2015 Regulations – 12 inches fork length (FL) minimum size limit, 15 fish/day for recreational anglers; 3,500-pound commercial trip limit.

Harvest Season Open year round, based on a fishing year of March 1 to February 28/29; commercial and recreational fisheries can close when the quota is reached.

Size and Age at Maturity 12 inches FL/2 years

Maximum Age 12 years

Juvenile Abundance 2006-2015 Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Spanish mackerel are considered coastal pelagic, meaning they live in the open waters near the coast. They make north and south migrations depending on water temperature, with 68° F being a preferred minimum. In North Carolina’s waters, Spanish mackerel can be found from April to November. They migrate south to the Florida coast in the late fall. In the summer months, they may be found as far inland as the sounds and coastal river mouths. Spanish mackerel spawn from May to September.

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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