Black Sea Bass South of Hatteras Listed as Viable in State’s Stock Status Report
MOREHEAD CITY – Black sea bass south of Hatteras has recovered and is listed as Viable in the 2013 Stock Status Report released by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries today.
A 2013 South Atlantic stock assessment found that the spawning stock has rebuilt and overfishing is not occurring.
“Black sea bass south of Cape Hatteras are extremely important to our commercial, recreational and for hire fisheries,” said Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. “The results of the most recent assessment are encouraging and should provide increased opportunities for our fishermen.”
The black sea bass stock south of Cape Hatteras has been under a federally managed rebuilding plan since 2006. Last year, the stock status was upgraded to Recovering.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council increased quotas for the 2013-2014 fishing season for both recreational and commercial fisheries.
In another change, the division added sheepshead to the Stock Status Report and listed it as Unknown.
Until last year, sheepshead was managed under the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan, and was included in a 20-fish snapper-grouper recreational bag limit aggregate. When sheepshead was removed from the South Atlantic plan, management of the fishery was left up to the state. No state fishery management plan has been developed, but the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission has begun the process of adopting a rule that will allow the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries to manage the sheepshead fishery through proclamation. The earliest the rule could become effective is Feb. 1, 2014.
Additionally, the division deleted catfishes and perches from the Stock Status Report.
Division research on catfishes and perches began in March 2004 in an effort to compile data for a fishery management plan, but funding for this research was discontinued in March 2012. Catfishes and white perch were listed as Unknown in the 2012 Stock Status Report. Yellow perch was listed as Concern.
The division annually grades the status of marine finfish, shellfish, shrimp and crabs as Viable, Recovering, Concern, Depleted or Unknown. Criteria for these categories can be found online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/stock-status-categories-and-definitions.
The grades serve as a barometer of the overall health of the state’s fishery resources, and they are used to prioritize development of fishery management plans.
The complete 2013 Stock Status Report can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/stock-status-reports.
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