By Russ Lay on December 2, 2014
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]iting a decline in stocks, the state Division of Marine Fisheries has reduced catch limits for striped bass in the Atlantic Ocean and Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River areas for the latest season.
The new limits affect commercial and recreational fishing.
A statement from the agency cited 2013 surveys showing that “fishing mortality in 2012 was above the target, and female spawning stock biomass has been steadily declining below the target level since the mid-2000s.”
“Spawning stock biomass is approaching its overfished threshold, and stock projections show spawning stock biomass will likely fall below the threshold in the coming years. In addition, a similar decline has been observed in total harvest for both stocks.”
As a result, the commercial harvest quota, which runs from Dec. 1 through Nov. 31 each year will drop from 480,480 pounds to 360,360 pounds, a 25% decrease.
The quota is further split evenly between commercial gill net, seine, and ocean trawl fisheries within North Carolina territorial waters.
Recreational fishermen will experience a decrease in daily bag limit from two fish per day to only one fish per day. The minimum size limit for striped bass in the Atlantic Ocean will remain at 28 inches for both commercial and recreational harvest.
In the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River Management Areas, the striped bass annual harvest limit will drop from 550,000 pounds to 275,000 pounds Jan. 1. The annual harvest limit will be split evenly between the commercial and recreational sectors as follows, with the recreational size and bag limits equivalent to the Atlantic Ocean limits.
- 137,500 pounds for the Albemarle Sound Management Area commercial fishery.
- 68,750 pounds for the Albemarle Sound Management Area recreational fishery.
- 68,750 pounds for the Roanoke River Management Area recreational fishery.
According to the Division of Marine Fisheries, “management changes are necessary for the state to comply with the recent approval of Addendum IV to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.’