north carolina marine & estuary foundation

Albemarle Sound & Roanoke River

striped bass

1.78% = DEPLETED

How It’s Calculated

FINDEX is a novel way to gauge whether the status of a fish population is trending up or down. Management of most fish species in North Carolina is guided by stock assessment models developed by various groups of scientists. The calculations in our FINDEX metric measure the gap between the desired condition of a fish stock (the Target reference value) and the existing condition (the most recent data year in the model called the Terminal value) as determined in each stock assessment. The gaps between Target and Terminal values are reported as ratios.

For example, if the Target and Terminal values are the same, there would be no gap, and the ratio would be 1.0. The multiplier on our FINDEX barometer would set the FINDEX value at 100% in this example and assign a stock status designation of “Stable.” Categories on the FINDEX barometer are measurable as they track the extent of the gap either above or below the “Stable” designation.

For Striped Bass in the Albemarle Sound & Roanoke River area, the FINDEX gap assessment compared Target and Terminal values of Fishing Mortality (F45%) and Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB45%) from the stock assessment developed by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries. The Terminal year (the most recent data year) in the stock assessment model was 2021.

Here's the FINDEX formula used for Striped Bass:

  • (0.182 x 0.098) x 100 = 1.78%
  • FINDEX = 1.78% for 2021
  • 1.78% = DEPLETED

FINDEX Status Over Time

The stock assessment model for Striped Bass provides point estimates of Fishing Mortality and Spawning Stock Biomass for each year covered in the data set. We’ve compared the Target reference values to these annual point estimates and calculated the ratios (gaps) for each data year from 1991 to 2021. Applying the FINDEX gap assessment to the entire time series provides the following stock status trendline:

Albemarle Sound & Roanoke River Harvest Quotas

Starting in 2021, the annual quota for Striped Bass, also known as Total Allowable Landings, was lowered from 275,000 pounds to 51,216 pounds in response to the stock assessment results. You can observe the yearly quotas since 1991 in the graph provided below.

The quota of 51,216 pounds is evenly divided between the commercial and recreational sectors. Within the Albemarle Sound Management Area, the NC Division of Marine Fisheries oversees the commercial quota (25,608 pounds), while the recreational quota is managed in Albemarle Sound (12,804 pounds) and all connecting rivers except the Roanoke. For the Roanoke River Management Area, the recreational quota (12,804 pounds) is managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Any excess from the previous year’s quota is deducted and affects the duration of each season.

For Harvest Seasons and Limits Visit:

State Record

  • North Carolina’s coastal state record Striped Bass was landed off Oregon Inlet in 2011 by Keith Angel
  • The record-breaking fish weighed 64 pounds

Did you know?

  • A three-year restoration stocking program began in 2023 to jumpstart recovery of the Striped Bass population on the Roanoke River and Albemarle Sound. The NC Marine & Estuary Foundation is financially supporting this ground-breaking partnership
  • Striped Bass are migratory, swimming upstream from the Atlantic Ocean (through Oregon Inlet), across Albemarle Sound, and up the Roanoke River each spring
  • Spawning grounds for the Albemarle Sound & Roanoke River population are located near the Town of Weldon in Halifax County
  • The North Carolina General Assembly has formally recognized Weldon as the “Rockfish Capital of the World
  • Striped Bass spawning occurs in late April and May, with peak spawning activity at water temperatures between 64°F and 68°F
  • River flow is critical to successful spawning; flows ranging from 6,000–12,000 cubic feet per second are optimal, allowing fertilized eggs and newly-hatched fry to be transported successfully to nursery areas in Albemarle Sound
  • Drastic declines in the Albemarle Sound & Roanoke River population are primarily a result of successive poor or failed year classes following extreme spring flooding events (20,000–30,000 cubic feet per second)
  • Striped Bass can live to age 30. When the age structure expands, older Roanoke River Striped Bass contribute to the Atlantic Ocean migratory population

What’s next?

FINDEX provides the most recent stock status updates for a variety of North Carolina’s finfish species. As new data is made available, FINDEX values will be revised. If you’re interested, new FINDEX profiles can be delivered to you directly if you subscribe to our newsletter.

Formed in 2017, the N.C. Marine and Estuary Foundation was established to support world-class fisheries and thriving coastal economies. In achieving this goal, the N.C. Marine and Estuary Foundation equips citizens, researchers, legislators, policymakers, stakeholders, and other organizations with high-quality scientific information to help solve challenging fisheries issues.