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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 26 American Shad SSR 2012

Marine Fisheries

American Shad

American Shad - 2012

Stock Status – Concern – Commercial landings declined in 2011, and are below the 10-year average. A coast wide stock assessment for American shad was completed in August 2007, which indicated stocks in the Albemarle Sound and tributaries were low but remained stable, and stock status in other systems of the state was unknown. The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is currently collecting fishery dependent and independent data in all systems.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2002-2011 – 234,166 lbs./$204,021

2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 204,085 lbs./$182,894

Average Recreational Landings - Not available

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) - In North Carolina, American shad are included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) FMP compliance requirements. An ASMFC FMP for Shad and River Herring was approved in 1985 and Amendment 1 of this plan was approved October 1998. ASMFC completed a coastwide stock assessment for American shad in August of 2007, which indicated stocks in the Albemarle Sound and tributaries were stable, and stock status in other systems of the state was unknown. Although stock status for the Albemarle Sound and tributaries is stable, total mortality is higher than the recommended level, and current abundance is considered to be well below the historical potential for these stocks. The stock assessment further concluded that most stocks along the East Coast are at all time lows and are not recovering. Since the 2007 coast wide stock assessment the ASMFC approved Amendment 3 to the Shad and River Herring FMP in February 2010. This amendment specifically addresses American shad management issues. Amendment 3 requires states and jurisdictions to conduct annual fisheries independent sampling programs to monitor juvenile abundance, adult stock structure, and hatchery evaluations. The amendment also requires dependent sampling programs to include the mandatory reporting of landings, catch, and effort for both commercial and recreational fisheries. States are also required to annually monitor bycatch and discard of American shad in fisheries that operate in state waters. Nursery and spawning habitat for American shad will be evaluated to assess habitat degradation, barriers to migration, and water quality. Amendment 3 also requires that states submit a sustainable fisheries management plan (SFP) for all systems that will remain open to commercial or recreational fishing. If states do not have an approved plan in place the commercial and recreational fishery will close by January 1, 2013. The DMF and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) developed a SFP for North Carolina that requested fisheries in the Albemarle/Roanoke, Tar-Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear River systems that included modified season starting dates and recreational creel limit reductions. The SFP was approved by the ASMFC Shad and River Herring Management Board in May of 2012. At their May 2012 meeting the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) voted to send the SFP out to the public and to the Regional Advisory Committees and the Finfish Advisory Committee for comment. The MFC will vote on the final American Shad SFP at their November 2012 meeting.

Research and Data Needs – Conduct spawning area surveys and juvenile abundance surveys in all NC river systems; improve and expand methods of monitoring catch and effort data in commercial and recreational fisheries; establish indices of abundance in all N.C. river systems utilizing dependent and independent data; validate current aging techniques for American shad.

Current Regulations – There is no size limit. The recreational bag limit for shad is a 10-fish aggregate (hickory and American combined) per person, per day.  

Harvest Season - The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission adopted a rule in 1995 establishing a commercial harvest season of January 1-April 14; it is unlawful to take American shad and hickory shad by any method except hook-and-line from April 15-December 31.
 
Size and Age at Maturity –     Males: 12-17.5 inches fork length / 3-5 years; Females: 15-19 inches fork length / 4-6 years

Historical and Current Maximum Age -10 years / 10 years

Juvenile Abundance Index 2002-2011 - 0.89, 2011 – 0.64 (Not Validated)

Habits and Habitats - American shad are anadromous, spending the majority of their lives in the ocean, returning to fresh water to spawn. Spawning occurs from March to mid-June, primarily in the high flow portions of rivers where there is sufficient current to suspend and move the eggs. Juveniles spend their first growing season in their natal river and sound systems until the water temperatures decrease, triggering emigration to the ocean. American shad will remain in the ocean until reaching sexual maturity and then return to fresh water to spawn.

For more information, email Amy Larimer at Amy.Larimer@ncdenr.gov or call 800-338-7805 or 252-264-3911.

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

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