Gulf Stock Characteristics

SEDAR 28, 2013 – fishbase.org

Natural mortality rate (M): 0.38/year (based on max age of 11 years)

Reproductive maturity: 50% are sexually mature

~Two years; 33 inches fork length (FL)

Maximum age: 11 years

Maximum weight:  68 kg (150 lbs) whole weight

Maximum length: 198 cm (78 in) total length

Current Federal Regulations:

Quota:

    • Stock ACL 1,660,000 pounds
    • Combined commercial and recreational quota 1,500,000 pounds

Recreational:

    • Season:  Open year-round. If landings reach the stock ACL, harvest will be prohibited for the remainder of the fishing year.
    • Size:  33 inches fork length (Pending increase to 36-inches fork length)
    • Bag Limit:  2 per person per day regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip.
    • Permit/License:  State issued recreational license or Federal Charter/Headboat License for Coastal Migratory Pelagics

Commercial:

    • Season:  Open year-round. If landings reach the stock ACL, harvest will be prohibited for the remainder of the fishing year.
    • Size:  33 inches fork length (Pending increase to 36-inches fork length)
    • Trip Limit:  2 per person per day regardless of the number of trips or duration of a trip.
    • Gear:  All authorized gear except drift gillnet and long gillnet.

Description:

Cobia are the only member of their genus.  Cobia are long and slim with a broad, flat head.  The dorsal side of the fish is dark brown in color, while the ventral side is milky white.  The lateral line is dark and obvious, and runs through the eye to the forked tail.  Cobia have many small teeth in their mouths, and approximately eight short, unconnected spines between the head and dorsal fin.  They can reach lengths of over two meters (6 ft), and weigh over 45 kg (100 lbs).

Distribution:

Cobia migrate seasonally, and can be found in the northern Gulf from March to October and in the southern Gulf and south Florida from November to March.  In the Gulf, spawning occurs in coastal waters from April to September at temperatures ranging from 23-28 °C (73-82 °F).  Cobia which are ready to spawn display a white horizontal stripe down each side of the body.  Eggs are found in the top meter (3 ft) of the water column, drifting with the currents, and are estimated to hatch within 36 hours.  From May to September, larvae are commonly found in surface waters, and occasionally at depths of up to 300 m (984 ft), where they likely feed on zooplankton.  Larvae transition to coastal and offshore waters as juveniles after approximately 25 days, often guided by currents, feeding on small fishes, squid, and shrimp. Adult cobia are found in coastal and offshore waters in depths up to 70 m (230 ft).  Adults feed on fishes and crustaceans, including crabs.