For the first time in North Carolina, recreational anglers will be soon limited on the number of spot and croaker they can keep each day, and there will be a commercial closure starting next winter.
Starting April 15, there will be a 50 fish per day limit for the popular bottom fish for recreational anglers using hook-and-line and other gear.
The commercial fishery for spot will close from Dec. 10 through Apr. 4, and the commercial Atlantic croaker season will close from Dec. 16 through Dec. 31.
According to the N.C. Divison of Marine Fisheries, the regulations comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission spot and Atlantic croaker fishery management plans. The stock status of both species is monitored by an adaptive management system, known as a traffic light analysis, which uses stock indicators to track relative abundance compared to a set of reference years.
The latest traffic light analyses for both spot and Atlantic croaker indicate a moderate level of concern. This requires the 50-fish bag limit for the recreational fishery and a 1% reduction in commercial landings from the 10-year average for each state from New Jersey to Florida that has substantial spot and Atlantic croaker landings and does not already have regulations in place.
These management measures will remain in effect for at least two years for spot and at least three years for Atlantic croaker. Future traffic light analyses for each species will determine what regulations are required after that.
For more specific information on the recreational regulations for spot and Atlantic croaker, see proclamations FF-23-2021 and FF-24-2021 at http://ncmarinefisheries.net/proclamations. Proclamations for the commercial fishery season closures will be issued later this year.