The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries today released its annual Stock Overview of state-managed marine fisheries species.
The 2021 North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Stock Overview reviews available information, such as long-term trends in catch, biological data and management, through 2020 to determine the overall condition of North Carolina’s state-managed species. It also provides links to information on federally-managed and interstate-managed species important to North Carolina.
Highlights of this year’s stock overview for state managed species include:
- Estuarine Striped Bass –A 2020 peer-reviewed benchmark stock assessment using data through 2017 found that the Albemarle-Roanoke estuarine striped bass stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. This triggered stricter harvest restrictions in the Albemarle Sound Management Area that took effect Jan. 1, 2021. Amendment 2 to the N. C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan is being jointly developed with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
- Shrimp – In February 2020, the Marine Fisheries Commission approved proposed rule language to reclassify special secondary nursery areas that have not been opened to trawling in years to permanent secondary nursery areas. The commission adopted the reclassification of nine areas in February 2021 through a revision to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Amendment 1. The rules became effective in May 2021. Development of the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 is underway and focuses on further reducing bycatch of non-target species and minimizing ecosystem impacts.
- Blue Crab – Amendment 3 to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan was approved in February 2020, and management measures were implemented to address the overfished and overfishing status of the stock based on results from the peer-reviewed 2018 benchmark stock assessment. Amendment 3 also contained the framework for establishing criteria for Diamondback Terrapin Management Areas (DTMA) where terrapin excluder devices are required. Two DTMAs were established in May 2020 in Masonboro Sound and the lower Cape Fear River, and beginning in March 2021, all pots used in these areas are required to have an approved excluder device in each funnel from March 1 to Oct. 31.
- Southern Flounder – Commercial and recreational seasons implemented in 2020 reduced landings but did not fully meet reductions required by the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2. Development of the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 is under way. Amendment 3 will examine more robust management strategies, such as quotas, slot limits, size limit changes, gear changes, and species-specific management for the recreational fishery.