Spanish mackerel fisheries now open

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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North Carolina Marine Fisheries Proclamation FF-15-2023 opened commercial and recreation Spanish mackerel fishery in North Carolina coastal fishing waters.

The fisheries opened at 12:01 a.m. on March 1, 2023.

For both fisheries, the size limit is 12 inches fork length.

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In the commercial fishery, “it is unlawful to possess aboard or land from a vessel, or combination of vessels that form a single operation, more than 3,500 pounds of Spanish or king mackerel, in the aggregate, in any one day.”

Harvest limit for charter vessels or head boats that hold a valid National Marine Fisheries Service Coastal Migratory Pelagic when fishing with more than three persons (including the captain and mate) on board is 15 Spanish mackerel per person per day.

The recreation fishery limit is also 15 Spanish mackerel per person per day.

“The intent of this proclamation is to allow harvest of Spanish mackerel in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Spanish Mackerel Fishery Management Plan and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagics,” states the proclamation.

The proclamation states: “the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils approved Amendment 20A to the Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagics prohibiting the sale of king and Spanish mackerel caught under the bag limit without a valid federal commercial permit. This prohibition on sale also applies to charter vessels and head boats that hold both valid federal charter/head boat and commercial permits, when operating as a charter. An exemption was made to allow sale of fish from state-permitted recreational fishing tournaments that donate all money from the sale to charity. The amendment also eliminates the income qualification requirements for Commercial King and Spanish Mackerel Permits. The amendment and final rule implementing the regulations is located at

Vessels holding both a valid National Marine Fisheries Service Atlantic Charter/Head boat Coastal Migratory Pelagics Permit and either a valid National Marine Fisheries Service Commercial Spanish Mackerel Permit OR Commercial King Mackerel Permit are considered to be operating as a charter boat/head boat when fishing with more than three persons (including captain and mate) onboard (see 50 CFR § 622.2).

“Provisions for individuals onboard a charter or head boat to possess multiple daily bag limits may be found at 50 CFR §622.382(2) and state that a person who is on a trip that spans more than 24 hours may possess no more than two daily bag limits, provided such trip is on a vessel that is operating as a charter vessel or head boat, the vessel has two licensed operators aboard, and each passenger is issued and has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that verifies the length of the trip,” says the proclamation.