King mackerel limit increased for Carolina anglers

king mackerel
King mackerel anglers in the Carolinas may now keep four fish per day through April 16, 2021. (photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

King mackerel increase lasts through April 2021

Recreational king mackerel anglers in the Carolinas may now keep four king mackerel per person, per day. This is an increase of one king mackerel per day. The minimum size limit remains at 24 inches. This increase is temporary and ends at 11:59 p.m. on April 16, 2021.

The change come as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) acted on a pair of temporary emergency rule change requests from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC). On Sept. 16, the request was approved and the limit was increased.

In June, the SAFMC voted for the increase because king mackerel catch reports were lagging behind previous years. Anglers, they determined, were not making the frequency of trips they had in years past, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A provision in national fishery regulations allows quick actions under such circumstances. So SAFMC chair Jessica McCauley sent a request to NOAA Fisheries.

The request asked for an increase to four king mackerel per angler, per day in federal waters from the New York/Connecticut/Rhode Island line to the Georgia/Florida line. The SAFMC showed that with the reduced effort, the increased limits would not threaten overfishing for the species. Recreational king mackerel landings have been at less than half of the allocation for several years.

Vermilion snapper limits also increased for commercial anglers

The NMFS agreed with the SAFMC’s concerns, and cited the guidelines for the Use of Emergency Rules (62 FR 44421, Aug. 21, 1997) had been met.

In a separate letter, McCauley requested an increase for commercial vermilion snapper anglers from 1000 pounds (gutted weight) to 1500 pounds for the South Atlantic Region.

NOAA Fisheries agreed to both requests and issued Fisheries Bulletin FB20-057, increasing the limits on Sept. 16, 2020.

The NCDMF issued a proclamation the next day, Sept. 17, effective immediately, that the limits were now increased in N.C. waters.

South Carolina law adopts Federal Regulations in these circumstances, so no additional action was required by SCDNR. The limits increased for S.C. anglers on Sept. 17 also.

For more information, visit the NCDMF website, the SCDNR website, or SAFMC’s website.

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Jerry Dilsaver
About Jerry Dilsaver 1187 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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