Reef Fishes - 2013
Stock status - Concern - Of the 60 species in the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) management unit, several species are overfished. The overfished stocks include red porgy, red snapper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, red grouper, and Warsaw grouper. Several management actions have been developed by the SAFMC to reduce effort in the fishery to ensure that stocks in the fishery management complex are not experiencing overfishing.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003-2012* – 2,519,610 lbs./$5,111,454 (Including black sea bass)
2012 Commercial Landings and Value* – 1,763,090lbs./$4,424,113
Average Recreational Landings 2003-2012* – 1,229,301lbs., 2012* – 610,092 lbs.
Average Number of Award Citations 2003 2012/ 2012 only – Amberjack (50 lbs.) 97/33, Grouper (20 lbs.) 94/137, Porgy (4 lbs.) 21/23, and Triggerfish (7 lbs.) 30/130
Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, reef fishes are currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Snapper Grouper FMP. Amendments 17A and 17B were adopted in December 2010. These amendments established prohibition of harvest for red snapper, requirement of circle hooks off North Carolina, and annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for nine species assessed as overfishing. This included a deepwater closure (240 ft. seaward) to protect Warsaw grouper and speckled hind. This deepwater closure was removed in May 2012 through Regulatory Amendment 11. The ACLs and AMs developed in Amendment 17B to end overfishing for species in the snapper grouper fishery management unit are requirements of the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Research and Data Needs – Develop juvenile and adult indices, assess survival rates, conduct population assessment, expand age and growth studies, and determine migration patterns.
2012 Regulations – Variable- See SAFMC or NCDMF websites for updated information. State and federal: greater amberjack 28 inches Fork Length (FL) (recreational) and 36 inches FL (commercial); black and gag groupers-24 inches Total Length (TL); red, scamp, yellowfin, and yellowmouth groupers 20 inches TL; red porgy-14 inches TL; vermilion, dog, gray, cubera, mahogany, queen, schoolmaster, silk, yellowtail, and blackfin snappers 12 inches TL; red snapper no possession (limited season); hogfish (not pigfish) 12 inches FL; and mutton snapper 16 inches TL..
Harvest Season – Open year round except: wreckfish have a spawning closure from January 15 April 15, shallow water grouper and red porgy have a January-April closure, 1,000 pound (gutted weight) commercial trip limit for gag grouper, greater amberjack have an April commercial closure (no sale), vermilion snapper have a recreational closure November 1-March 31 and 1,500 pound commercial trip limit. Quotas have been developed for several species and temporary closures may occur. See the SAFMC or NCDMF websites for more details.
Size and Age at Maturity – variable
Historical and Current Maximum Age – variable
Juvenile Abundance Index – None available
Habits and Habitats – Reef fish occur on hard or "live" bottom on the outer continental shelf.
* Crevalle jack and sheepshead were removed from the reef fish complex.
For more information, contact Chip Collier at Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov or 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7215.