Black Sea Bass Regulations

black_sea_bass.jpg

Black Sea Bass

Centropristis striata

AKA

Pinbass, Rock Bass

Managed by:

SAFMC

Fish Rules
Mobile App

Mobile App - Fish Rules

Download for:
Iphone/Ipad & Android


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.


A Fishery Performance Report is available for this species - Click Here!

Recreational Regulations

Recreational Season: 

The following regulations apply to Black Sea Bass in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) South of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina through Key West, Florida.

The Black Sea Bass stock North of Cape Hatteras, NC is managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and other regulations may apply.

  • Open Season: April 1 - March 31
    • Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the recreational Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met. If an in-season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here.

 

Recreational Bag and Size Limits

 

  • Bag Limit: 7 fish per person per day 

 

  • Minimum Size Limit: 13 inches total length
  •  

Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers.

 

Dehooking Tool Requirement:

  • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • At least one dehooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper-grouper with minimum damage.
    • The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process.
    • The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.

 

Descending Device Requirement:

  • Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species;

 

  • Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
    • The descending device attaches to the fish’s mouth or is a container that will hold the fish.  The device MUST be capable of releasing the fish automatically, by the actions of the operator of the device, or by allowing the fish to escape on its own.
    • Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

 

Hook Requirements:

All hooks, regardless of type, must be constructed of non-stainless steel. 

North of 28º North Latitude:

  • The use of Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when
    fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude.  
  • A circle hook is defined as a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the point is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a generally circular, or oval, shape.

 

South of 28º North Latitude:

  • The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.  

 

Click here for helpful resources, including:

  • best fishing practices tips
  • information on hook types
  • how-to videos

NOTE: All other recreational gear requirements apply (see other tabs for details).

 

Permit Requirements

A Federal For-Hire Permit is Required

  • Click Here to Learn More
  • When harvest of this species closes in federal waters, vessels with a federal charter/for-hire permit cannot retain this species in state or federal waters.
  • Beginning January 4, 2021, all vessels with a federal charter/headboat permit for Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper will be required to electronically report their catch. Learn more.

 

Sea Turtle Release Gear Requirements

  • All species must be landed with head and fins intact
  • Recreational Bag Limit sales are prohibited 

 

Fish Rules Mobile App

Mobile App - Fish Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see some "Frequently Asked Questions."

DOWNLOAD for Android
DOWNLOAD for Apple 

 

Recreational Regulations Summary

Click the image for a summary of regulations for some snapper grouper species

 

Current Fishery Closures

Click the image for a summary of current fishery closures

Commercial Regulations

Hook & Line Component

The following regulations apply to Black Sea Bass in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) South of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina through Key West when using hook-and-line gear.

Commercial Permit:

 

Commercial Season:

  • There are two commercial hook & line seasons: 
    • Season 1: May 1 - December 31
    • Season 2: January 1 - April 30

 

Commercial Trip & Size Limits

  • Hook and Line Sector: 
    • May 1 - December 31: 1000-lb gutted weight (1,180 lbs whole weight) 
    • January 1 - April 30: 300-lb gutted weight (354-lb whole weight) 

 

  • Minimum Size Limit: 11 inches total length

Pot Fishery 

The following regulations apply to Black Sea Bass in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) South of Cape Hatteras through Key West when using black sea bass pots.

 

Commercial Permit:

 

Commercial Season

  • The use of Black Sea Bass pots is prohibited annually from November 1 through April 30, except in areas shown in the maps.

 

Commercial Trip & Size Limits

  • Trip Limit: 1,000-lbs gutted weight (1,180 pounds whole weight)

 

  • Minimum Size Limit: 11 inches total length

 

Other Important Information

Click the image to see the Black Sea Bass Pot Regulation Guide

  • The following restrictions apply:
    • Black Sea Bass pots can only be used by vessels with a Black Sea Bass Pot Endorsement.
    • Black Sea Bass pots are only allowed north of Cape Canaveral, FL. The use of black sea bass pots is prohibited annually from November 1 through April 30, except in areas shown in maps below.
    • The use of at least a 2-inch mesh for the entire back panel of black sea bass pots is required.
    • A Black Sea Bass pot must be removed from the water at the conclusion of each trip and once the annual catch limit is met.
    • 35 pots per vessel per permit year.
    • Each Black Sea Bass pot in the water or onboard a vessel in the South Atlantic EEZ must have a valid identification tag attached. Endorsement holders must apply for new tags each permit year through NOAA Fisheries to replace tags from the previous year.
    • Pot buoy line marking requirements apply seasonally (see 50 CFR 622.189(g); specifics at 50 CFR 229.32(b), 50 CFR 229.32(f), 50 CFR 229.32(c)(6) and (9))

Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers. 

 

Dehooking Tool Requirement:

  • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • At least one dehooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper-grouper with minimum damage.
    • The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process.
    • The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.

 

Descending Device Requirement:

  • Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species;

 

  • Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
    • The descending device attaches to the fish’s mouth or is a container that will hold the fish.  The device MUST be capable of releasing the fish automatically, by the actions of the operator of the device, or by allowing the fish to escape on its own.
    • Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

 

Hook Requirements:

All hooks, regardless of type, must be constructed of non-stainless steel. 

North of 28º North Latitude: 

  • The use of Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude.
  • A circle hook is defined as a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the point is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a generally circular, or oval, shape.  

 

South of 28º North Latitude:

  • The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.  

 

Click here for helpful resources, including:

  • best fishing practices tips
  • information on hook types
  • how-to videos

 

Sea Turtle Release Gear Requirements

Annual Catch Limit

This species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit (ACL).

After the commercial annual catch limit 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 annual catch limit being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer. 

Click here for details 

  • All species must be landed with head and fins intact

Fish Rules Mobile App

Mobile App - Fish Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see some "Frequently Asked Questions."

DOWNLOAD for Android
DOWNLOAD for Apple 

 

Commercial Regulations Summary

Click the image for a summary of regulations for some snapper grouper species

 

Current Fishery Closures

Click the image for a summary of current fishery closures