Black Sea Bass

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Black Sea Bass

Centropristis striata

AKA

Pinbass, Rock Bass

Managed by:

SAFMC


Physical description:

The larger individuals of black sea bass are black, while the smaller induviduals are more of a dusky brown. The exposed parts of scales are paler than the margins, giving the fish the appearance of being barred with a series of longitudinal dots. The belly is only slightly lighter in color than the sides. The fins are dark, and the dorsal is marked with a series of white spots and bands. The upper portion of the caudal fin ends as a filament. During spawning, males may have a conspicuous blue nuchal hump.


Biological description:

The black sea bass is a temperate marine species that inhabits irregular hard-bottom areas, such as wrecks or reefs. They are found from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral, and those found in the South Atlantic Bight usually occur more inshore with other tropical reef fish such as snappers, groupers, porgies and grunts. Black sea bass are protogynous hermaphrodites, that is, they change sex with size. Large individuals are males, and smaller individuals are female. The number of eggs produced in a spawning season ranges from 30 thousand to 500 thousand depending on the size of the fish. The spawning season is June through October in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, and February through May in the South Atlantic Bight. Females reach sexual maturity when they are 7.5 inches long, and males when they are 9 inches long. Black sea bass may live up to 20 years, although fish older than 9 years are rare. The maximum size attained is 24 inches and 6 pounds. Black sea bass are opportunistic feeders eating whatever is available, preferring crabs, shrimp, worms, small fish and clams.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations

(For areas ranging from three to 200 miles off the coasts of NC, SC, GA, and East Florida)

Commercial:

  • Size Limit: 11" TL minimum size limit.
  • Trip Limit:
    • Hook and Line Sector: OPEN with 1000-lb  gutted weight (1180 pounds whole weight);
    • Pot sector: OPEN; 1000-lb  gutted weight (1180 pounds whole weight) (See maps below for areas that are closed to pot fishing.)

  • NOTE:  May 1 to December 31 - 1,000 pound gutted weight (1180 pounds whole weight)commercial trip limit for hook-and-line gear. (January 1 to April 30 - 300 pound gutted weight (354 whole weight) commercial trip limit for black sea bass using hook-and-line gear.)
  • Commercial Quotas/Additional Requirements and Information:
    • NOTE: New fishing year is January 1 through December 31 each year and remains open until the Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met.
    • NOTE: January 1 to April 30 - 300 pound gutted weight commercial trip limit for black sea bass using hook-and-line gear. May 1 to December 31 - 1,000 pound gutted weight commercial trip limit for hook-and-line gear.
    • The use of black sea bass pots is prohibited annually from November 1 through April 30.
    • Pots allowed only north of Cape Canaveral, FL.
    • Pot endorsement program is in place effective July 1, 2012.
    • The use of at least a 2 inch mesh for the entire back panel of black sea bass pots is required.
    • Black sea bass pots are to be removed from the water once quota is met.
    • Stock North of Cape Hatteras, NC is managed separately by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
    • All fish must be landed with heads and fin intact.
    • The use of dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species is required.
    • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook and line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28-degrees N latitude.
    • After the commercial quota is met, all purchase and sale is prohibited and harvest and/or possession is limited to the recreational bag limit. This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed, and sold prior to the quota being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer. (Quotas are given in gutted weights.)
    • Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. See the Handling and Release Protocol from NOAA Fisheries or call 727-824-5312.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) -This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries
    • Gear restrictions apply.
  • Note: Read Fishery Bulletin regarding pot endorsement program and other measures, effective July 1, 2012.

Recreational:

  • Size Limit: 13" TL minimum
  • Bag Limit: NEW! 7 fish per person/day, effective August 12, 2016.
  • Recreational Season: OPEN;
    • NOTE: New fishing year is April 1 - March 31 annually and open until the Annual Catch Limit has been met or projected to be met.
  • Recreational Remarks: 
    • Stock North of Cape Hatteras, NC is managed separately by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
    • All fish must be landed with heads and fin intact.
    • The use of dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species is required.
    • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook and line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28-degrees N latitude.
    • The sale of bag limit caught snapper grouper species is prohibited.
    •  ​​Gear restrictions apply.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) -This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries

Additional Updates:

  • September 23, 2013 - NOAA Fisheries is Increasing Catch Limits for Black Sea Bass in the South Atlantic and Implementing an Annual Prohibition of Pot Gear...New Commercial Annual Catch Limit is 780,020 pounds (whole weight) and New Recreational Annual Catch Limit of 1,033,980 pounds (whole weight). Fishery Bulletin