Recreational catches of black sea bass closed until June 1 in Atlantic waters.
NOAA Fisheries Service has determined that the 2012-2013 recreational annual catch limit of 409,000 pounds for black sea bass has been reached. As a result, the recreational sector for black sea bass in federal waters of the South Atlantic from the latitude of Cape Hatteras Light, North Carolina to Key West, Florida, is closed from September 4, 2012, through 12:01 a.m. June 1, 2013.
For vessels with a valid federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper grouper, the closure applies to state and federal waters. The operator of a vessel that has a federal for-hire permit for snapper grouper must land any black sea bass harvested from either state or federal waters prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, September 4, 2012.
According to NOAA, black sea bass are experiencing overfishing (rate of removal is too high). For the 2012-2013 fishing year the commercial annual catch limit is 409,000 pounds. Harvest levels must be kept below these levels to prevent fish from being removed too quickly, and to rebuild the black sea bass population.