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Recreational Cobia Season Opens May 1

Cobia. Image: DMF

Recreational cobia fishing season is to open May 1, with new private vessel limits in state waters, and close Dec. 31.

During the open season, Division of Marine Fisheries officials say that the minimum size limit will be 36 inches fork length, measured from the tip of snout to the fork in the tail. The possession limit will be one fish per person, per day.

The vessel limit while fishing on a private vessel from May 1 through June 30 is one fish per person per day, with a maximum of two fish per vessel per day if there are two or more people aboard the vessel. On July 1, the private vessel limit will decrease to one fish per vessel per day. Previous regulations dropped the private vessel limit to one fish per person per day at the beginning of June.

The possession limit for fishing aboard a for-hire vessel is the same as 2020 with one fish per person per day, and a maximum of four fish per vessel per day if four or more people are on board a vessel.

The recreational cobia fishery is managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which reallocated in 2020 the Atlantic group cobia quota from 92% recreational and 8% commercial to 96% recreational and 4% commercial, according to the division. The change was mostly based on new recreational catch estimates that resulted from changes in survey methodology by the Marine Recreational Information Program.

The new recreational catch estimates were, on average, about two times higher than previously estimated, impacting the allocation between the two sectors. The change in allocation along with 2018 and 2019 recreational harvest estimates fall below the state’s recreational harvest target allowed for the change in regulations, the division continued.

For more specific information on recreational cobia regulations, see the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Proclamation Webpage.

For more information, contact Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Anne Markwith at 910-796-7292 or

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.