American Shad - 2013
Stock Status – Concern – Commercial landings increased in 2012, and are above 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 2003–2012 – 230,286 lbs./$212,381
2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 235,861 lbs./$257,748
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. Since the 2007 coast wide stock assessment the ASMFC approved Amendment 3 to the Shad and River Herring FMP in February 2010. 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. The original SFP included an opening date of March 1, 2013, in all systems in order to achieve the reductions. The Northern Advisory Committee recommended a February 15 opening for all areas except for the Cape Fear River. These modifications were approved by the MFC at its November 7-9, 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.
2012 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 2003-2012 - 0.81, 2012 – 0.18
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, contact Lindsey Staszak at Lindsey.Staszak@ncdenr.gov (800-338-7805 or 252-264-3911).