Gulf Stock Characteristics

SEDAR 61, 2019

Natural mortality rate (M):  0.144/year­

Reproductive maturity:  50% of females mature at ~11.5 inches (29.2 cm) fork length (FL); age 2.2 years

Maximum age:  29 years

Maximum weight: 50.7 lbs (23 kg) whole weight

Maximum length: 41.7 inches (106 cm) FL

Discard mortality:

  • 41.5% comm. longline
  • 19% comm. handline
  • 10% trap
  • 11.6% recreational

Current Federal Regulations:

Recreational:

  • Fishing season: Closed February 1 through March 31 beyond 20 fathoms (120 ft or 36.6 m), Open in January and April 1 through December 31.
  • Size Limit: Minimum size limit is 20 inches (50.8 cm) total length
  • Bag Limit: 2 per person within the 4 grouper per person aggregate bag limit

Commercial:

  • Quota:  3,000,000 pounds gutted weight
  • Size Limit: Minimum size limit is 18 inches (45.7 cm) total length
  • Trip Limit: Managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program with no closed season.
    • Anyone commercially fishing for grouper or tilefish must possess IFQ allocation and follow established protocols

Description:

Red grouper is common eastern Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish that can be found from shallow reefs out to depths exceeding 390 ft (120 m).  It is easily identified by its red/orange/brown coloration with mottled white and gray splotches.  Red grouper in the Gulf are considered not overfished and not experiencing overfishing (SEDAR 61 2019); however, the stock is very susceptible to episodic mortality from red tide, and may have experienced substantial mortality from red tide in 2018.

Life History and Distribution:

Red grouper is commonly caught in Florida waters from Panama City to the Florida Keys along the inner to mid-continental shelf, and is rare in the western Gulf.  The species inhabits perforated hardbottom such as limestone reef caverns and crevices.  Juveniles live in shallow-water nearshore reefs until they become sexually mature and move offshore.  Red grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite, transitioning from female to male at older ages, and forms harems for spawning.  Age and size at sexual transition from female to male is ~11.4 years and 27.9 inches (70.8 cm) FL.  Red grouper spawn from February until mid-July with peak spawning occurring during March through June (SEDAR 61, 2019).

Landings History

(SEDAR 61, 2019)