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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 14 Gag SSR 2012

Marine Fisheries

Gag Grouper

Gag Grouper - 2012

Stock Status – Concern - Also called black grouper or gray grouper. According to the latest stock assessment (2006) from South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC), the gag stock is experiencing overfishing, but it is not overfished. Estimates of recruitment from 2002 to 2004 are below average and fishing mortality rates from 2002 to 2004 are above the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) level. Stock projections suggest that the stock will remain above the proposed Minimum Stock Size Threshold (MSST) in the medium-term.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2002-2011 – 218,299 lbs /$669,264

2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 201,451 lbs /$790,647

Average Recreational Landings 2002-2011 – 150,570 lbs, 2011 – 43,530 lbs

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) - Gag is currently included in the NC Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to SAFMC Snapper Grouper FMP compliance requirements. Amendment 4 (1992) established a 20-inch total length (TL) minimum size; Amendment 9 (1999) increased the minimum size to 24 inches TL, created a 2-fish recreational bag and a March-April closure (bag limit only, no sale). Amendment 16 (2009) established a spawning season closure from January-April for both recreational and commercial fishermen, a bag limit of one gag or black grouper for the recreational fishermen. Captains and crew on for-hire vessels cannot retain a recreational bag limit. Amendment 17B (2010) The commercial ACL for the South Atlantic is 352,940 lbs gutted weight with a trip limit in North Carolina of 1,000 lbs gutted weight and recreational ACL is 340,060 lbs gutted weight and a one fish bag limit.

Data and Research Needs - develop juvenile index, assess release mortality values, conduct population assessment, expand age and growth studies, and determine migration patterns

Current Regulations - state and federal: 24 inches TL. Commercial ACL (federal)-352,940 lbs gutted weight and 1,000 lbs trip limit. Recreational ACL 340,060 lbs gutted weight and included in the aggregated grouper bag limit of which one fish may be a gag or black grouper.

Harvest season – Commercial and recreational closed season January through April or when the quota of shallow water grouper or gag grouper is reached.

Size and Age at Maturity – Gag first mature as females at 5 years, when fish are greater than 26 inches TL. Transformation to the male generally occurs around 10 years and greater than 39 inches TL.

Historical and Current Maximum Age - 30 years/22 years

Juvenile Abundance Index - None available, but studies are being conducted in North Carolina and other states.

Habits and Habitats - Spawning occurs offshore and pelagic larvae are carried into estuaries where they reside in sea grass beds or on oyster rocks. Gag larvae and early juveniles are considered to be estuarine dependent. As the waters cool in the fall, juveniles emigrate from the estuary to nearshore reefs. Large juveniles and adults occur on hard or “live” bottom on the outer continental shelf.

For information, email Chip Collier at Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov or call 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7215.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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