Fishermen who have lamented tight restrictions on black sea bass off the Carolinas may get some relief. The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council said the most-recent stock status survey was good enough to consider raising recreational quotas for the popular bottomfish, and it is asking fishermen to comment electronically or by mail before a special conference on May 13.

The 2012 quota was 847,000 pounds, which was reached in 10 weeks. One proposal would increase that to 2.1 million pounds for 2013, then lower it to 1.99 million and 1.81 million for 2014 and 2015. Another proposal would increase the quota to 1.75 million and keep it at that level.


The current allocation for black sea bass is 43 percent commercial and 57 percent recreational.


Another proposal would close the commercial season, a black sea bass pot fishery, from Nov. 1-April 30 to lessen possible gear interactions with whale migrations and the right whale calving season.


The Council will meet on May 13 in a "webinar" to decide how to proceed when the season opens on June 1. The meeting is scheduled from 1-5 p.m. and is the last in a series that was quickly scheduled after the March meeting when preliminary results of the stock status survey showed black sea bass numbers much greater than initially expected.


Fishermen interested in commenting can register for the webinar by visiting Public comment will be allowed by those fishermen registered for the webinar. Fishermen wishing to comment, but unable to register for the webinar should e-mail their comments to or mail them to Robert Mahood, SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405. Comments must be received by May 10, 2013.