Officials Note Southern Return Of Black Sea Bass

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the southern population of the black sea bass has recovered, but fishermen along the North Carolina coast aren't sure their numbers ever dwindled.

The Star-News of Wilmington reports ( while catch limits for black sea bass more than doubled last month, one charter boat operator says he's been catching sea bass for most of the season.

Chip Collier, manager of the state Division of Marine Fisheries Wilmington district, says official population assessments typically lag behind what fishermen observe.

The southern population, stretching from Cape Hatteras to eastern Florida, has been under a management plan since 2006. Instead of the 10 years officials thought it would take to rebuild the stock, population numbers have increased because the fish reaches reproductive maturity relatively quickly.