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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 26 American Shad SSR 2014

Marine Fisheries

American Shad

American Shad - 2014

Stock Status – Concern – Commercial landings increased in 2013, and are above the 10-year average. A coastwide 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 N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is currently collecting fishery dependent and independent data in all systems.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2004-2013 – 216,548 lbs./$217,890

2013 Commercial Landings and Value – 257,869 lbs./$307,475

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 requires a sustainable fisheries management plan (SFP) for all systems that will remain open to commercial or recreational fishing. The 2013 commercial season for all areas occurred during February 15 to April 15 except the Cape Fear River where the season ran from February 20 to April 11, 2013. In November of 2013, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted for a shortened season of March 3-24, 2014, due to thresholds being met within the SFP in 2013.

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.

2013 Regulations – There is no size limit. The recreational bag limit in Albemarle Sound Management Area and the Bay and Neuse Rivers is a 10-fish aggregate (hickory and American combined) per person, per day, of which only one American Shad can be taken within the 10-fish aggregate. The Cape Fear River and tributaries has a 10-fish aggregate of which no more than 5 may be American Shad. In the Pamlico and Pungo Rivers, Pamlico Sound, and other coastal and joint waters the limit is no more than 10 fish in the aggregate 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 2004-2013 – 0.50, 2013 – 0.96

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).

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

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