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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 24 Reef Fish SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Speckled Hind / Reef Fish

Snapper-Grouper Complex — 2016

(Reef Fish)

Stock statusConcern – 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, hogfish (East Florida) and snowy grouper. Stocks experiencing overfishing are red snapper, blueline tilefish, speckled hind, Warsaw grouper, and hogfish (East Florida) 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 2006—2015 – 2,058,952 lbs./$4,568,308 (quota managed)

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – 1,360,208 lbs./$3,319,466 (quota managed)

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – 1,304,774 lbs. 2015 – 514,530 lbs. (quota managed)

Average Number of Award Citations 2006—2015/2015 onlyAmberjack (50 lbs.) 69/39 (27 kept, 12 released), Grouper (20 lbs.) 114/123, Porgy (4 lbs.) 31/72, Triggerfish (5 lbs.) 69/198, Red Snapper (10 lbs.) 35/0*, Blueline Tilefish (10 lbs.) 71**/19

*There was no opening for Red Snapper in the 2015 fishing year. Average was calculated from the last 10 years, however for 2012-2014 due to the short seasons any fish caught and donated to the carcass collection program (regardless of size) the angler received a citation.
**Average is based on 2008-2015. There were no citations given for this fish prior to 2008.

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. 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. In 2015, two amendments and two regulatory amendments were passed by SAFMC. Amendment 32 (2015) implemented measures to end overfishing of blueline tilefish effective in March 2015, which included commercial trip limit reductions and modified the recreational fishing season. Amendment 29 (2015) established a minimum size limit for gray triggerfish (commercial and recreational), created a split season for grey triggerfish to match that of vermillion snapper, and set a commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish effective July 1, 2015. Regulatory Amendment 22 (2015) adjusted the annual catch limits (ACL) for gag and wreckfish. Regulatory Amendment 20 (2015) adjusted the recreational and commercial ACLs for snowy grouper, modified the recreational fishing season for snowy grouper, and increased the commercial trip limit for snowy grouper. 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.

2015 Regulations – State and federal: greater amberjack—28 inches Fork Length (FL) (recreational) and 36 inches FL (commercial); 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. When fishing for snapper-grouper species dehooking tools are required, as is the use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits.

All species also have annual catch limits, while many have 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
  • Blueline tilefish and Snowy grouper recreational fisheries open May 1-August 31 annually

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

Maximum Age – Variable

Juvenile Abundance Index – Not 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 (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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