Black Sea Bass Regulations

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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

 

Click here for a helpful black sea bass pot fishery regulation guide

Commercial:

  • OPEN
  • Minimum Size Limit: 11" TL minimum size limit.
  • Limited access permit required
  • Endorsement required to fish with sea bass pots
  • Trip Limit:
    • Hook and Line Sector: 
      • 1000-lb gutted weight (1,180 lbs whole weight) from May 1 through December 31.
      • 300-lb gutted weight (354-lb whole weight) from January 1 through April 30
    • Pot sector: 1000-lb gutted weight (1,180 pounds whole weight) (See maps below for areas that are closed to pot fishing.).  The use of black sea bass pots is prohibited annually from November 1 through April 30, except in areas shown.
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Stock North of Cape Hatteras, NC is managed separately by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and different regulations may apply.
    • All fish must be landed with heads and fins 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 annual catch limit is met, all purchase and sale is prohibited and harvest and/or possession is limited to the recreational bag limit (while recreational harvest is open). 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.
    • The commercial ACL applies to both pot gear and hook-and-line gear.
    • Charter/Headboat and Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. Click here to learn more 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
    • Allowable Gear:
      • Vertical hook-and-line including hand-held hook-and-line and bandit gear. Spearfishing gear without rebreathers.
      • Powerheads, except where expressly prohibited in Special Management Zones (SMZs) and in the EEZ off South Carolina.
      • Back sea bass pots with the following restrictions:
        • Only for vessels with black sea bass pot endorsement.
        • 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.
        • 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 NMFS 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))

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

 

Recreational:

  • OPEN
  • Minimum Size Limit: 13" TL minimum
  • Bag Limit:  7 fish per person/day
  • Recreational Season:
    • 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.
    • Charter/Headboat and Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. Click here to learn more or call 727-824-5312.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) -This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries

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