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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Reef Fish - stock status report

Marine Fisheries

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Speckled Hind / Reef Fish

Reef Fishes

Stock status – Concern – Of the 73 species in the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) management unit, several are overfished. The overfished stocks include snowy grouper, red porgy, red snapper, red grouper, and black sea bass south of Cape Hatteras. Several management actions have been developed by the SAFMC to reduce effort in the fishery and ensure that stocks in the fishery management complex are not experiencing overfishing.
 
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2001–2010 – 2,723,476 lbs./$5,111,350 (Including black sea bass)

2010 Commercial Landings and Value – 2,532,771 lbs./$5,293,967

Average Recreational Landings 2001–2010 – 1,363,014 lbs., 2010 – 1,402,397 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations 2001–2010/2010 only – amberjack (50 lbs.) – 155/100, grouper (20 lbs.) – 78/147, crevalle jack (20 lbs.) – 29/13, porgy (4 lbs.) – 18/15, sheepshead (10 lbs.) – 59/96, red snapper (10 lbs.) – 0/35, and triggerfish (7 lbs.) – 16/76

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, reef fish are currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to SAFMC FMP compliance requirements developed in Amendments 1–17. Amendments 17 A and B were adopted in December 2010. These amendments established prohibition of harvest for red snapper, a requirement of circle hooks off North Carolina, and annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) for nine species assessed as undergoing overfishing. This included a deepwater closure (240 ft. seaward) to protect warsaw grouper and speckled hind. The ACLs and AMs developed in Amendment 17 B 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, determine migration patterns.

Current Regulations – State and federal: greater amberjack – 36 inches fork length (FL) minimum size limit (commercial) –28 inches fork length (FL) minimum size limit (recreational) and; black and gag groupers–24 inches total length (TL) minimum size limit; red, scamp, yellowfin, and yellowmouth groupers–20 inches TL minimum size limit; red porgy–14 inches TL minimum size limit; silk and blackfin snappers–12 inches TL minimum size limit; red snapper–no possession; and vermilion snapper–12 inches TL minimum size limit. Federal only: hogfish (not pigfish)–12 inches FL minimum size limit; dog, gray, cubera, mahogany, queen, schoolmaster, and yellowtail snappers–12 inches TL minimum size limit; and mutton snapper–16 inches TL minimum size limit. See the SAFMC (www.safmc.net) or DMF (www.ncfisheries.net) websites for more details.

Harvest Season – Open year round except: wreckfish have a spawning closure from January 15 to April 15, shallow water grouper and red porgy have a January–April closure, and greater amberjack have an April commercial closure (no sale) with a season and quota beginning May 1, vermilion snapper have a recreational closure November 1–March 31. Quotas have been developed for several species and temporary closures may occur. See the SAFMC (www.safmc.net) or DMF (www.ncfisheries.net) websites for more details.

Size and Age at Maturity – Varies by species

Historical and Current Maximum Age – Varies by species

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 Chip Collier at Chip.Collier@ncdenr.net or 1-800-248-4536 or (910) 796-7292.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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