How much blue crab was harvested commercially and recreationally last year? What’s going on with striped bass in the two management areas? What did the division see in its sampling last year? These are all questions that are answered in the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ 2022 Fishery Management Plan Review, released today.
The annual Fishery Management Plan Review summarizes available information, such as long-term trends in catch, biological data and management, through 2022 for North Carolina state-managed species. It also provides links to information on federally-managed and interstate-managed species important to North Carolina. Read the full plan or individual species pages at https://deq.nc.gov/fishery-management-plans.
Highlights of this year’s review for state managed species include:
- Bay Scallop –After many years of low abundance, a limited bay scallop season was opened in specific regions in 2021 and 2022. Harvest was set to the lowest allowed level under Amendment 2 management.
- Spotted Seatrout – The Stock Assessment of Spotted Seatrout in Virginia and North Carolina Waters was completed in 2022. The stock assessment indicated the stock is not overfished, with spawning stock biomass well above target levels. However, overfishing is occurring, meaning too many fish are being removed annually to be sustainable. A formal review of the plan is currently underway and will address the overfishing status of the stock.
- Striped Mullet – The Stock Assessment of Striped Mullet in North Carolina Waters was completed in 2022 and indicated the striped mullet stock in North Carolina was overfished with overfishing occurring. Based on the stock status, the DEQ Secretary determined it was in the interest of the long-term viability of the fishery to implement temporary management to address overfishing while the plan is under review. Supplement A to Amendment 2 to the N.C. Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan was recently approved and requires regional season closures. In 2023, the striped mullet season will be closed in Coastal Fishing Waters including the Atlantic Ocean from Nov. 7 – Dec. 31 in waters north of the Highway 58 Bridge and Nov. 10 – Dec. 31 in waters south. A formal review of the plan, currently underway, will fully address both the overfished and overfishing status of the stock.
- Blue Crab – Blue crab landings have remained below average since 2020, prompting the Division to conduct a stock assessment update in 2023. The Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3, approved in February 2020, implemented management measures to address the overfished and overfishing status of the stock based on results from the peer-reviewed 2018 benchmark stock assessment. Amendment 3 includes adaptive management to address results of the stock assessment update.
- Estuarine Striped Bass – The N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2, jointly developed with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was approved in November 2022. Additionally, due to ongoing low juvenile recruitment, a stock assessment update was completed in 2022 for the Albemarle-Roanoke estuarine striped bass stock. The update indicated the stock decline has continued since the 2020 assessment, in large part due to the very limited juvenile recruitment. As a result, the stock remains overfished with overfishing occurring. Amendment 2 adaptive management measures prescribes that management changes be implemented to end overfishing and address the overfished status determined from the 2022 stock assessment update results.
- Shrimp – The N.C. Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 was approved in February 2022. The Division continues to implement management focused on reducing bycatch of non-target species and minimizing ecosystem impacts.
- Southern Flounder – The N.C. Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 was approved in May 2022. Amendment 3 provides comprehensive and robust management strategies to address the overfished and overfishing status for the portion of the Southeast Southern Flounder stock that occurs in North Carolina. The Division implemented Amendment 3 management during the 2022 fishing season.
For more information, contact Lee Paramore at 252-473-5734.