Black Drum Benchmark Assessment

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s South Atlantic State/Federal Management Board recently approved the 2015 Black Drum Benchmark Stock Assessment and Peer Review Report for management use.

According to the assessment results, black drum is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. Median biomass was estimated to have declined slowly and steadily from 135.2 million pounds in 1900 to 90.78 million pounds in 2012, though the median biomass estimate in 2012 is still well above the median biomass that produces maximum sustainable yield (BMSY; 47.26 million pounds).

The median maximum sustainable yield (MSY) estimate is 2.12 million pounds and provides an annual catch target that can be used to sustainably manage the fishery. The median overfishing limit (OFL), which provides a catch threshold indicating when overfishing is occurring, is estimated to be 4.12 million pounds.

Black drum are a data-poor species. Their rarity and migratory patterns lead to highly variable levels of encounter in state surveys and fisheries. Further, limited size composition data has been collected, making the use of age-structured models unreliable. For these reasons, data-poor, catch-based modeling methods were used for the assessment.

Under the Black Drum Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which was approved in 2013, states were required to implement a maximum possession limit and minimum size limit (of at least 12 inches) by January 1, 2014, with an additional increase of the minimum size limit to at least 14 inches required by January 1, 2016.
The FMP also includes a management framework to adaptively respond to future concerns or changes in the fishery or population. Given the assessment findings, the Board choose to not make any additional changes to the management program at this time.

A more detailed description of the stock assessment results is available on the Commission’s website at

source: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission