Fishery Management Plans

Stock Overview

2020 FMP Review (August 2021)

State-Managed Species

Interjurisdictional Species

The North Carolina Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 requires the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries prepare fishery management plans for adoption by the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission for all commercially and recreationally significant species or fisheries that comprise state marine or estuarine resources. The goal of these plans is to ensure long-term viability of the fisheries.

The division currently has 13 state-managed fishery plans. In addition to stocks managed through state fishery management plans, the commission and division fully participate in the management of interjurisdictionally managed species where North Carolina has a vested interest. Interjurisdictional species are managed regionally due to either their migration across state boundaries and/or their occurrence in federal waters. Since the commission and division are the only authorities that can regulate North Carolina marine and estuarine fisheries, the North Carolina Fishery Management Plan for Interjurisdictional Fisheries was adopted by the commission. This plan adopts, by reference, federal and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission management plans as minimum standards. Through the state interjurisdictional plan, the division participates in and adopts management strategies for 21 additional federally-managed or Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission-managed fishery plans.

The annual North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Fishery Management Plan Review provides information on plans and species of commercial or recreational significance to North Carolina. The information in the report is based on fisheries data available through the prior year. The Fishery Management Plan Review is an invaluable reference document and resource about the latest status of fisheries occurring in North Carolina.

The annual review includes the stock status for each species or species group to describe the current condition of the stock relative to overfishing or overfished status. Overfishing occurs when the current rate of removals (harvest and discards) is too high. Continued overfishing will lead to an overfished stock, a condition where the population size is too small. Populations that are too small are at risk of not being sustainable through natural reproduction. Not all declines in a population are due to fishing mortality. When other factors, such as excessive predation, environmental factors, or disease result in a low stock size, the stock will be classified as depleted.

If there is adequate data, stock assessments are the primary tools used to determine the status of stocks and develop appropriate management measures for the long-term viability. When an assessment concludes the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, fishery managers may find no changes to existing management strategies are needed or in a recovered stock may be able to relax prior regulations. If the stock is overfished or experiencing overfishing, fishery managers will consider actions to improve the condition of the stock. Stock condition is impacted by many physical and biological factors, not just fishing. Managers consider all available factors acting on a stock when considering the most appropriate management strategies.

State-Managed Species


Bay Scallop

Bay Scallop Annual Update

Bay scallops are a short-lived species that are managed as an annual crop. They are sensitive to environmental change and may experience high levels of predation, which can impact annual abundance. As a result, a stock assessment is not an effective tool for management. The August 2020 Bay Scallop Fishery Management Plan update was approved as an information update to the Bay Scallop Fishery Management Plan. For more information, contact Jeff Dobbs at Jeffrey.Dobbs@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Bay Scallop FMP Amendment 2
(March 2015)
Bay Scallop FMP Amendment 2 Brochure
(March 2013)
Bay Scallop FMP Amendment 1
(Nov. 2010)
Bay Scallop Original FMP 
(Nov. 2007)

Blue Crab

Blue Crab Annual Update

Results of the 2018 benchmark stock assessment indicate the blue crab stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. The assessment passed peer review and the model was accepted for use in management. Amendment 3 to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan was approved in February 2020 to address the overfished status and end overfishing. For more information, contact Daniel Zapf Daniel.Zapf@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
May 2020 Revision to Amendment 3 to the North Carolina Blue Crab FMP
(May 2020)
Blue Crab FMP Amendment 3 summary pamphlet
(April 2020)
Blue Crab FMP Amendment 3
(May 2020)
Stock Assessment of the North Carolina Blue Crab 1995-2016
(March 2018)
May 2016 Revision to Amendment 2 to the North Carolina Blue Crab FMP
(May 2016)
Blue Crab FMP Amendment 2
(Nov. 2013)
Blue Crab FMP Amendment 1
(Dec. 2004)
Blue Crab Original FMP
(Dec. 1998)

Eastern Oyster

Eastern Oyster Annual Update

A stock assessment could not be conducted due to limited data; therefore, population size and the rate of removals from the population are not known. Commercial landings from public bottom have been variable, and landings from private bottom in the past few years have increased significantly due to more interest in aquaculture. Work is underway with N.C. State University and the Nature Conservancy to develop methodologies to determine survey methodologies. Amendment 4 to the Oyster Fishery Management Plan was approved in February 2017. For more information, contact Joe Facendola at Joe.Facendola@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Oyster FMP Amendment 4
(Feb. 2017)
Oyster FMP Amendment 3
(April 2014)
Supplement A to Amendment 2 to the Oyster FMP
(Nov. 2010)
Oyster FMP Amendment 2 
(June 2008)
Oyster FMP Amendment 1
(Jan. 2003)
Oyster Original FMP
(Aug. 2001)

 

Estuarine Striped Bass - FMP under review

Estuarine Striped Bass Annual Update

Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River Management Area

Results from the 2020 assessment indicate the Albemarle Sound-Roanoke River (A-R) striped bass stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. With overfishing occurring in the terminal year of the assessment (2017), adaptive management measures contained in Amendment 1 are required to reduce the total allowable landings to a level that is projected to lower the fishing mortality back to the target. The November 2020 Revision to Amendment 1 was effective Jan. 1, 2021 and reduced the total allowable landings for the A-R stock to 51,216 pounds. Staff from the Division of Marine Fisheries and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission continue development of Amendment 2. For more information, contact Nathaniel Hancock at Nathaniel.Hancock@ncdenr.gov or view the Information on Estuarine Striped Bass Amendment 2 page.

Central/Southern Management Area

The Central Southern Management Area stocks include the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers. Based on genetic analysis, a high percentage of the fish in these systems are hatchery reared (stocked) with limited natural recruitment occurring. Supplement A to Amendment 1 to the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan instituted a recreational and commercial no-possession limit in the CSMA to provide stock protection until Amendment 2 to the N. C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan is adopted.  A traditional stock assessment cannot be conducted because of limited data; therefore, stock status is unknown. Matrix model results indicate CSMA populations are depressed to an extent that sustainability is unlikely at any level of fishing mortality and a tagging model showed consistent decline in abundance estimates for striped bass in the Cape Fear River from 2012–2018. Staff from the Division of Marine Fisheries and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission continue development of Amendment 2. For more information, contact Todd Mathes at Todd.Mathes@ncdenr.gov or view the Information on Estuarine Striped Bass Amendment 2 page.

Documents
November 2020 Revision to Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP 
(Nov. 2020)
Assessment of the Albemarle Sound-Roanoke River Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in North Carolina, 1991–2017
(Aug. 2020)
Central Southern Management Area Striped Bass Stocks in North Carolina
(Aug. 2020)
Supplement A to Amendment 1 of the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan
(March 2019)
Nov. 2014 Revision to Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP
(Nov. 2014)
Estuarine Striped Bass FMP Amendment 1
(May 2013)
Estuarine Striped Bass Original FMP
(May 2004)

Hard Clam

Hard Clam Annual Update

A stock assessment cannot be conducted due to limited data; therefore, population size and the rate of removals from the population are unknown. Harvest fluctuates, often in response to changes in demand, improved harvesting methods, and increases in polluted shellfish area closures. Amendment 2 to the Hard Clam Fishery Management Plan was approved in February 2017. For more information, contact Jeff Dobbs at Jeffrey.Dobbs@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Hard Clam FMP Amendment 2
(Feb. 2017)
Hard Clam FMP Amendment 1
(June 2008)
Hard Clam Original FMP
(Aug. 2001)
 

Kingfishes

Kingfishes Annual Update

A stock assessment is not available due to lack of migration data, so an annual trend analysis with management triggers is used to monitor the stock. Due to impacts from Covid, a complete trend analysis is unavailable in 2020. However, since two triggers must be activated for two consecutive years and only one management trigger was activated in 2019, no action is required. For more information, contact Kevin Brown at Kevin.H.Brown@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Kingfishes FMP Information Update
(Dec. 2015)
Kingfishes (Sea Mullet) Original FMP
(Dec. 2007)

Red Drum

Red Drum Annual Update

The regional benchmark stock assessment (North Carolina and all states north), conducted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in 2017, indicates that overfishing is not occurring and that management targets continue to be met. The size of the fish stock (overfished status), however, continues to be unknown due to limited data available for the adult population. The Red Drum Fishery Management Plan Update was approved as an information update in August 2017. A new benchmark stock assessment is scheduled to begin in 2022. For more information, contact Lee Paramore at Lee.Paramore@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Red Drum FMP Update
(Aug. 2017)
Red Drum FMP Amendment 1
(Nov. 2008) 
Red Drum Original FMP
(March 2001)
 

 

River Herring

River Herring Annual Update

An Atlantic coastwide stock assessment update for river herring was completed in August 2017, with data through 2015, by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The North Carolina portion of the coastwide stock assessment is for the Albemarle Sound blueback herring stock only, due to the long-term data available for this area. River herring in other parts of the state are currently listed as unknown by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission due to the lack of data for these systems. The stock assessment update found that the North Carolina stock in the Albemarle Sound was not experiencing overfishing due to the harvest moratorium, but the stock remains overfished. The factors leading to this recommendation of stock status remain largely unchanged since the 2012 stock assessment, despite fishing pressure that is negligible. The spawning stock biomass remains at 12 percent of the amount necessary to replace itself in the complete absence of fishing. For more information, contact Holly White at Holly.White@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
River Herring FMP Amendment 2
(April 2015)
River Herring FMP Amendment 1
(Sep. 2007)
River Herring Original FMP
(Feb. 2000) 

Sheepshead

Sheepshead Annual Update

No stock assessment is currently available for sheepshead. Landings trends and other biological data prompted the Marine Fisheries Commission to implement harvest restrictions in June 2015. The division continues to monitor landings and collect data on the stock. In 2020, the commercial and recreational landings were below the 10-year average. For more information, contact Anne Markwith at Anne.Markwith@ncdenr.gov.

Shrimp - FMP under review

Shrimp 2021 Annual Update

The stock is considered an annual crop that consists of three species of shrimp (brown, pink, white). Population size is determined mainly by the number of shrimp entering the population each year, which is driven by environmental conditions. A stock assessment is not an effective tool for management, but annual landings are a good indication of relative abundance. Draft Amendment 2 is under development and focuses on further reducing bycatch of non-target species and minimizing habitat impacts in the shrimp trawl fishery. For more information, contact Chris Stewart at Chris.Stewart@ncdenr.gov or view the Information on Shrimp FMP Amendment 2 page

Documents
Revision to Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Shrimp Fishery Management Plan
(May 2021 )
Revision to Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Shrimp Fishery Management Plan
(May 2018 )
Shrimp FMP Amendment 1
(March 2015)
Shrimp Original FMP
(April 2006)

Southern Flounder - FMP under review

Southern Flounder Annual Update

The 2019 stock assessment of southern flounder in the south Atlantic indicated that the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. The assessment passed peer review and the model was accepted for use in management. Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan was approved in August 2019 implementing reductions in total removals in North Carolina of 62% in 2019 and 72% beginning in 2020. Development of Amendment 3 is underway, as required by Amendment 2. For more information, contact Michael Loeffler at Michael.Loeffler@ncdenr.gov, or view the Frequently Asked Questions about Southern Flounder Management page or the Information on Southern Flounder Amendment 3 page.

Documents
Southern Flounder FMP Amendment 2
(Sept. 2019)
Stock Assessment of Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) in the South Atlantic, 1989-2017
(Jan. 2019)
Stock Assessment of Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) in the South Atlantic, 1989-2015
(Jan. 2018)
Supplement A to 2013 Southern Flounder FMP Amendment 1
(Aug. 2017)
Southern Flounder FMP Amendment 1
(Feb. 2013)
Supplement A to 2005 Southern Flounder FMP
(Jan. 2011)
Southern Flounder Original FMP
(Feb. 2005)

Spotted Seatrout - FMP under review

Spotted Seatrout Annual Update

The 2014 stock assessment indicated that the spotted seatrout stock in North Carolina and Virginia was not overfished and that overfishing was not occurring in the terminal year (2012). Recreational and commercial landings in 2019 and 2020 increased compared to the previous years, but there is no indication that the stock is at risk. A benchmark stock assessment for spotted seatrout is underway coinciding with the scheduled fishery management plan review, and it will incorporate data through February 2020. For more information, contact Tracey Bauer at Tracey.Bauer@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Spotted Seatrout Stock Assessment
(April 2015)
Supplement A to 2012 Spotted Seatrout FMP
(March 2014)
Spotted Seatrout Original FMP
(March 2012)

Striped Mullet - FMP under review

Striped Mullet Annual Update

Amendment I to the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan was adopted in November 2015. An update of the 2013 stock assessment model with data through 2017 indicated overfishing is not occurring, but could not determine the overfished status. Review of 2020 commercial landings indicated neither the maximum (2.76 million pounds) nor minimum (1.13 million pounds) triggers had been exceeded. A review of the plan began in July 2020. For more information contact, Daniel Zapf at Daniel.Zapf@ncdenr.gov.

Documents
Stock Assessment of Striped Mullet (Mugil cephalus) in North Carolina Waters 2018
(July 2018)
Striped Mullet FMP Amendment 1
(Nov. 2015)
Striped Mullet Original FMP
(April 2006)

Interjurisdictional Species


In addition to the above listed state FMPs, there is also one composite plan called the N.C. FMP for Interjurisdictional Fisheries. This plan is comprised of 21 species or species groups jointly managed by regional councils, NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. To reduce redundancy, federal plans for interjurisdictional fisheries are usually adopted by reference unless the MFC decides to implement more restrictive or complementary management measures. This plan is currently under review. 

Interjurisdictional FMP Information Update
(Nov. 2015)
Interjurisdictional FMP Amendment
(June 2008)
Interjurisdictional Original FMP
(Sept. 2002)