Anglers may find the annual catch limits of black sea bass this year more than doubled.
A recent scientific review shows the stock is now rebuilt, according to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
The SAFMC has proposed raising the annual catch limit (a total for both recreational and commercial fishermen, allocated 57 and 43 percent respectively) from 847,000 pounds to more than 1,800,000 pounds. That season is set to open Saturday, June 1, in federal waters from the east coast of Florida north to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
The good news comes on the heels of increased quotas announced in the past week or so by NOAA Fisheries for Gulf of Mexico red snapper and for yellowtail snapper in Florida.
The SAFMC acknowledges that the new sea bass assessment simply “confirms what fishermen are seeing on the water” — more sea bass than they can remember, even where “they’ve never seen black sea bass before.”
Federal officials cite the sacrifices made by fishermen since the SAFMC put tough measures into place in 2006 and note that the season for the species could run into November — vs. about a two-month season last year.