skip to main content | skip to footer
North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 31 Spotted Seatrout SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

Spotted Seatrout - If you are not seeing picture, use a browser other than Internet Explorer and try again.

Spotted Seatrout — 2015

Stock Status - Viable – The 2014 North Carolina Spotted Seatrout Stock Assessment indicated that the stock in North Carolina and Virginia is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Spawning potential ratio’s (SPR) are above the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) recommended criteria of 20% and above the divisions target of 30%. It should be noted that cold stun events appear to have a large influence on spotted seatrout population dynamics with winter cold shock cited as a primary factor in local and coastwide periodic declines in spotted seatrout.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2005-2014 – 259,230 lbs./$451,893

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 241,995 lbs./$578,934

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 703,863 lbs., 2014 – 435,176 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (5 lbs./24 inches^) 2005-2014 – 356, 2014 – 197 (9% of the 2014 citations were released)

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – The state Spotted Seatrout FMP (2012) is the first fishery management plan developed for spotted seatrout in North Carolina. However, spotted seatrout have been managed along the Atlantic Coast through an Interjurisdictional FMP developed by the ASMFC. The ASMFC Spotted Seatrout FMP was initially approved in 1984, and has been reviewed annually since 2001. Amendment 1, approved by the ASMFC Policy Board on November 1991, developed a list of goals for coastwide management but allowed each state that had an interest in the spotted seatrout fishery (Florida through Maryland) to manage their stocks independently. North Carolina followed the recommendation of the ASMFC Spotted Seatrout FMP Amendment 1 to maintain a spawning potential ratio (SPR) of at least 20%. North Carolina’s spotted seatrout stock is considered to be overfished when the stock falls below a threshold of 20% SPR and overfishing is considered to be occurring if fishing mortality rates rise above a threshold associated with the 20% SPR. North Carolina’s management strategy is to maintain fishing mortality equivalent to a 30% SPR which will increase the likelihood of sustainability through an expanded age structure and an increase in the spawning stock biomass. Current management is under Supplement A to the 2012 Spotted Seatrout FMP which was approved in February 2014 to maintain current regulations on harvest and creel limts.

Research and Data Needs – Continue tagging studies to verify estimates of natural and fishing mortality, understanding stock structure, and examining migration; histological maturity; cold stun research; develop s custom model that allows for incorporation of variable natural mortality.
2014 Regulations – It was unlawful for a commercial fishing operation to possess spotted seatrout less than 14 inches total length or to posses more than 75 spotted seatrout per day. It was unlawful to possess more than four spotted seatrout per person per day taken commercially by hook and line in joint and coastal fishing waters of the state.It was unlawful for a commercial fishing operation to set gill nets in the joint fishing waters of the state as well as possess or sell spotted seatrout for commercial purposes from midnight on Friday to midnight on Sunday each week; the joint fishing waters of the Albemarle and Currituck Sounds were exempt from this restriction.
It was unlawful for recreational fishermen to possess spotted seatrout less than 14 inches total length, and unlawful to possess more than four spotted seatrout caught by hook and line or for recreational purposes.
The Recreational and Commercial fisheries were closed to possession from February 5 through June 15 due to a severe cold stun event.
Harvest Season – Year round. Peak catches occur in the fall, although May and June are also productive months.

Size and Age at Maturity – 7 to 9 inches fork length (FL)/less than 1 year
Males mature at a younger age, smaller size, and earlier in the season, than females.

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 12 years/9 years

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not available

Habits and Habitats – Estuarine dependent member of the Sciaenidae family that includes kingfish, spot, croaker, red drum, black drum, and weakfish. Peak catches occur in the fall, although May and June are also productive months. North Carolina spotted seatrout have a protracted spawning season which extends from late April through early October. Juveniles are dependent on estuarine seagrass habitat as critical nursery areas. Catastrophic mortalities of spotted seatrout have been attributed to cold shock, hurricanes, excessive fresh water and red tide conditions.

^Citation weight requirement increased from 4 lbs. to 5 lbs. and added 24 inch release category effective 2008

For information, contact Michael S. Loeffler at Michael.Loeffler@ncdenr.gov or 800-338-7805 or 252-264-3911 or Daniel Zapf at Daniel.Zapf@ncdenr.gov or 800-338-7804 or 252-946-6481.

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

NCDMF logo

Print
38337 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.