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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 24 Reef Fish SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

Speckled Hind / Reef Fish

Snapper-Grouper Complex — 2015

(Reef Fish)

Stock status –Concern – Of the 59 species in the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) management unit, several species are either overfished or experiencing some degree of overfishing. 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 2005 - 2014 – 1,846,263 lbs./ $3,985,064 (quota managed)

2014 Commercial Landings and Value – 1,303,843 lbs./ $3,222,479 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 1,246,252 lbs. 2014 – 343,988 lbs. (quota managed)

Average Number of Award Citations (2005—2014/2014 only) – Amberjack (50 lbs.) (74/61), Grouper (20 lbs.) (103/141), Jack Crevalle (20 lbs.) (8/3), Porgy (4 lbs.) (25/43), and Triggerfish (7 lbs.) (50/105)

Status of Fishery 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. In 2014, one amendment and three regulatory amendments were passed by SAFMC. Amendment 27 (2014) allowed for up to four crew members on vessels holding both charter and commercial vessel snapper grouper permits when fishing commercially, as well as retention of bag limit quantities of all snapper grouper species by captain and crew of for-hire vessels.  Regulatory Amendment 15 (2014) removed the requirement that all other shallow water grouper species are prohibited from harvest once the gag ACL is met or projected to be met. Regulatory Amendment 21 (2014) modified the overfished threshold for several species with low natural mortality rates (i.e. gag, black grouper, vermillion snapper) to avoid classifying them as overfished unnecessarily. Regulatory Amendment 14 (2014) modified the start dates of the commercial and recreational black sea bass and greater amberjack fishing seasons, and implemented a commercial trip limit stepdown for gag once 75 percent of the annual catch limit is met.  Two amendments have become effective so far in 2015. Amendment 32 (2015) implemented measures to end overfishing of blueline tilefish effective in March, and Amendment 29 (2015) establishes a minimum size limit for gray triggerfish (commercial and recreational) and a commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish effective July 1, 2015. For additional amendments and updated information see the SAFMC website.

Research and Data Needs – Develop juvenile and adult indices, assess survival rates, conduct population assessment, expand age and growth studies, and determine migration patterns.

2014 Regulations – State and federal: greater amberjack—28 inches Fork Length (FL) (recreational) and 36 inches FL (commercial); lesser amberjack- 16 inches Total Length (TL) (recreational); black and gag groupers-24 inches TL; red, scamp, yellowfin, and yellowmouth groupers—20 inches TL; red porgy-14 inches TL; vermilion, dog, gray, cubera, mahogany, queen, silk, yellowtail, black, and blackfin snappers—12 inches TL; hogfish (not pigfish)—12 inches FL; mutton snapper—16 inches TL; red snapper—no possession (limited season); and Goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, Warsaw grouper, speckled hind- no possession.  Several species also have annual catch limits, commercial trip limits and recreational bag limits, see the SAFMC or NCDMF websites for updated information.

Harvest Season – Open year round, with the exception of:

  • Goliath grouper, Nassau grouper, Warsaw grouper, and speckled hind, unlawful to possess/harvest (commercial and recreational)
  • Red snapper, unlawful to possess/harvest (commercial and recreational); limited season may occur based on previous year’s data
  • January-April shallow water grouper spawning closure (commercial and recreational); Commercial also has same closure for red porgy
  • Wreckfish have commercial spawning closure January 15-April 15; recreational fishery open July 1-August 31 annually
  • April commercial closure for greater amberjack

Quotas have been developed for all 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.

For more information, contact Anne Markwith at Anne.Markwith@ncdenr.gov or 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7292.

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

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