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Marine Fisheries - Black Sea Bass NOH

Marine Fisheries

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BLACK SEA BASS, Centropristis striata

North of Cape Hatteras

8-point rule

Black sea bass

Life History

Black sea bass (Centropristis striata) are split into two stocks but together are found along the Atlantic coast from the Gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys. The northern stock is located from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina while the southern stock is located from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the Florida Keys. Black sea bass have a unique life history in that they are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they begin life as female and then change to male once they reach age 2 to 5 or when they reach 9 to 13 inches in total length. During the spawning season, dominant males develop a large nuchal (nape of the neck) hump, whereas subordinate males do not and are typically smaller in size. Spawning for the northern stock typically occurs offshore on the inner continental shelf during the months from May to July. Juveniles and adults move nearshore during the summer. Seasonal migration is common for black sea bass (north of Cape Hatteras). Black sea bass have a maximum age of 12 years. They are likely to stay near rock pilings, wrecks and jetties and prey on fish, crabs, mussels and razor clams.

Fisheries

Black sea bass (north of Cape Hatteras) are popular commercial and recreational fisheries in the mid-Atlantic region. Commercial fisheries landed 388,858 pounds of black sea bass in North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) which had a value of $1,222,998 in 2017. Commercial landings for black sea bass were consistent from 2008 to 2016 with the exception of 2010 to 2013. This value increased in 2017. Low landings during 2012 to 2013 were due to excessive shoaling of Oregon Inlet which limited the number of trawl boats able to land in North Carolina. Annual black sea bass commercial landings in North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) averaged 180,969 pounds since 2008 (Figure 1). The winter trawl fishery (primarily flounder trawls and flynets) has been the main commercial fishery for black sea bass in North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) for most years since 2008. North Carolina fishermen also land black sea bass from pots, gill nets, long lines and rod and reel (Figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Recreational fisheries harvested 13,062 (19,448 pounds) black sea bass in North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) in 2017. Recreational harvest declined from 2008 to 2016 but increased in 2017. Harvest typically occurs from spring (May) to winter (December). Annual black sea bass recreational harvest in North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) averaged 8,274 fish and 12,502 pounds from 2008 to 2017. Released numbers were much higher and averaged 79,642 fish (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Management

In North Carolina, black sea bass (north of Cape Hatteras) are included in the North Carolina Interjurisdictional Fishery Management Plan. This plan defers to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan for compliance requirements. Management measures include commercial state by state quotas, with North Carolina allocated 11 percent of the total quota. Other commercial measures include minimum mesh sizes for trawls and a moratorium on new entrants to the fishery. Minimum fish size limits and seasons exist for both recreational and commercial sectors, and bag limits are used for the recreational fishery. In February 2014, in accordance with Addendum XXV, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission management board approved the use of regional management for the black sea bass recreational fishery. Addendum XXVII (February 2016) extended ad hoc regional management of the black sea bass recreational fishery for the 2016 and 2017 fishing years. However, with the passing of Addendum XXX (February 2018) the 2018 recreational black sea bass management will operate with options for regional allocations that require uniform regulations and other alternatives to the current North/South regional delineation (MA-NJ/DE-NC). Black sea bass (south of Cape Hatteras) are managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Stock Overview

  • Assessment: Yes
  • Terminal Year of Last Assessment: 2015
    • Overfishing: No
    • Overfished/Depleted: No

The 2016 black sea bass benchmark stock assessment used a spatially explicit age based statistical catch at age model using the age structured assessment program. In 2015, the fishing mortality rate was below the threshold reference point and the spawning stock biomass (the amount of spawning females in the stock) was above the target reference point so the stock was not overfished (the number of mature females in the population is not too small) and overfishing (the rate of removal from the population is not too high) was not occurring. A stock assessment update has been scheduled for early 2019. No juvenile abundance index value is available for black sea bass in North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras).

Research Needs

Research needs include investigating adult migration patterns; examining age structured models; age validation; establishing a consistent fishery independent survey of black sea bass adults (fish pot or hook and line surveys) and juveniles (ocean trawl surveys); collecting fishery dependent age and sex data from the fisheries; genetic research; studying habitat use, spawning dynamics and catchability; research on rate, timing, and occurrence of sex change; examining sex specific models; and establishing tagging programs.

Links

Management Agencies

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Fishery Management Plans Amendments, Revisions and Supplements

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Stock Assessment Reports

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Contacts

For more information,
contact Todd Daniel VanMiddlesworth at Todd.VanMiddlesworth
@ncdenr.gov
or 252-473-5734
black sea bass
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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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