Conservation group proposes management plan for spotted sea trout

The N.C. Coastal Fisheries Reform Group has made a proposal to help stop commercial overfishing of speckled sea trout.

Speckled trout is N.C.’s top recreational fish

On Feb. 21, 2019 at the quarterly NC Marine Fisheries meeting, the NC Coastal Fisheries Reform Group (NCCFRG) proposed a change in the way the spotted sea trout is managed in North Carolina. The spotted sea srout (speckled trout) is the number one coastal recreational fishery in North Carolina with a total recreational harvest of 6,365,400 pounds in 2017. Given the pronounced value of spotted sea trout as a recreational target and trophy, the NCCFRG offered a management strategy that can all be incorporated under existing statutory authority of the MFC to improve the viability of the spotted sea trout fishery.

The management strategy includes the following.

–Spotted sea trout will remain both a commercial species and recreational species.

–Amend MFC Rule: 15A NCAC 031 .0101 Definitions by Proclamation or otherwise to remove the exception for “hook and line “ from the list of approved types of commercial gear, which will then allow commercial taking of spotted sea trout using hook and line.

–Employ MFC Rule: 15A NCAC 03M . 0522 Spotted Sea Trout to direct the Director of the MFC to implement by Proclamation the following management measures for Spotted Sea Trout.

  1. Restrict commercial take of Spotted Sea Trout to hook and line only.
  2. Prohibit possession of Spotted Sea Trout in any fishing operation when or where a gill net is present.
  3. Allow commercial and recreational fishing for Spotted Sea Trout year round.
  4. Set a Daily recreational creel limit of 6 fish between 15” and 20” and allow only one of the six fish to exceed 20”.
  5. Set the commercial daily creel limit of 75 fish between 15’ and 24’’but allow 150 Spotted Sea Trout to be possessed aboard a commercial fishing vessel if two licensed commercial fisherman are aboard.

This management strategy was adopted for the successful management of spotted sea trout in the state of Florida and has been in force since 1994.

About the NC Coastal Fisheries Reform Group

The NC Coastal Fisheries Reform Group was formed in 2009 to promote the proper management of North Carolina’s coastal marine fisheries for all citizens of the state.