Black Sea Bass Now Listed as Viable by Fisheries

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Black Sea Bass south of Cape Hatteras has recovered and is listed  as “Viable” in the 2013 Stock Status Report released by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries.

A 2013 South Atlantic stock assessment found that black sea bass 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 NC Division of Marine Fisheries in a media release.

“The results of the most recent assessment are encouraging and should provide increased  opportunities for our fishermen,” said Daniel

The assessment result was released July 1.

The black sea bass stock south of Cape Hatteras has been under as federally managed rebuilding plan since 2006.  Last the stock status was upgraded to “Recovering.”

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council increased quotas for the 2013-14 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 Fisheries 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 NC Marine Fisheries Commission has begun the process of adopting a rule that will allow the director of the Divison of Marine Fisheries to manage the sheepshead fishery through proclamation. The earlies rule could become effective is Feb.1, the release explained.

Additionally, the division deleted catfishes and perches, from the Stock Status Report.
Division research on catfish 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 Stock Status Report. Yellow perch was listed as Concenr.

The division annually grades the status of marine finfish, shellfish, shrimp, and crabs as Viable, Recovering, Concern, Depleted or Unknown. 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.