Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SAFMC Approves Changes to Black Sea Bass Management

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) approved management measures for black sea bass, red grouper and wreckfish during their December meeting in Raleigh, NC. The proposed changes in Amendment 18A to the black sea bass fishery are meant to reduce the rate of harvest of black sea bass in order to extend the current fishing year for both the commercial and recreational fisheries as well as including increases in the minimum size limit. There are also changes to a commercial trip limit and implementing an endorsement program for the commercial black sea bass pot fishery, which is mainly done in the Carolinas. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, the recreational size limit will increase from 12" to 13" total length and the commercial size limit will increase from 10" to 11" total length. For the commercial fishery, a commercial trip limit of 1,000 pounds (for all gear types) would be implemented, there would be a limit of 35 commercial pots that can be fished on a single trip, and a requirement that all pots be retrieved at the end of each fishing trip.

The SAFMC did receive results of a new benchmark stock assessment for black sea bass which showed that the stock is no longer considered overfished but overfishing does appear to be continuing at a low level. The stock is currently in Year 6 of a 10-Year rebuilding plan. Fishermen have reported increases in the numbers and sizes of black sea bass.

The SAFMC also approved Amendment 24 for red grouper and Amendment 20A for wreckfish fishery.

For more information visit the SAFMC website. You can also read the press release on the approved changes at