Snowy Grouper

Snowy Grouper

Scientific Name

Epinephelus niveatus

Stock Status

Overfishing – No

Overfished – Unknown

Regulations

Recreational Commercial
Season Open year-round. Season Snowy grounper is managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. Anyone commercially fishing for snowy grouper must possess allocation and follow established protocols.
Minimum Size Limit none Minimum Size Limit none
Bag Limit 4 per person within the 4-grouper aggregate bag limit which includes gag, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, yellowedge grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and warsaw. No grouper may be retained by the captain or crew of a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat. Trip Limit none
Permit State issued recreational license/angler registry, federal angler registry or Federal charter/headboat permit for reef fish Permit Commercial vessel permit for reef fish is required. Additionally, an eastern Gulf reef fish bottom longline endorsement required to use bottom longline for Gulf reef fish in the federal waters east of 85°30′ longitude.
Gear Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks. Gear Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks.

Harvest Limits

 Combined stock ACL for yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind – 1,070,000 pounds gutted weight
 Combined stock ACT for yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, and speckled hind – 1,024,000 pounds

Description

Snowy grouper is found in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.  It has even been recorded as far north as Canada.1   As an adult, snowy grouper is a uniform dark brown color.  Juveniles and smaller adult fish have a pattern of evenly spaced white spots on their sides and back.  Small juveniles may have a dark saddle-like blotch at the base of the tail fin and yellowish pectoral and tail fins.

 

Maximum observed age:  35 years2, 3

Age at maturity:  5 years4, 3

Maximum weight:  66.14 pounds (30 kilograms)5, 2

Maximum length:  48.03 inches (122 centimeters)2

Life History and Distribution

The adult snowy grouper is found offshore over rocky bottoms at depths from 30 to 1300 feet (9 – 396 meters).   Both juveniles and adults can be found over reefs and hard-bottom habitats.  This species of grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite:  fish are born as females and transition to males sometime after becoming adults.  Little is known about the spawning patterns of the snowy grouper; however, observations on reproduction show that this fish exhibits courtship behavior near deep Oculina coral reefs where scamp and gag are also known to aggregate before spawning.  It is thought to form resident spawning aggregations in areas with ridges and steep drop-offs.  Within the Gulf of Mexico, snowy grouper is estimated to spawn from January to October.2

References

  1. Scott, W.B. and M.G. Scott, 1988. Atlantic fishes of Canada. Can. Bull. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 219:731 p.
  2. Kobara, S., B. Erisman, W. Heyman, C. Biggs, N. Farmer, S. Lowerre-Barbieri, M. Karnauskas, and J. Brenner. 2017. Cooperative monitoring program for spawning aggregations in the Gulf of Mexico: data portal. Version 1.0 GCOOS, USA.
  3. SEDAR 49. 2016. Gulf of Mexico Data-limited Species: Red Drum, Lane Snapper, Wenchman, Yellowmouth Grouper, Speckled Hind, Snowy Grouper, Almaco Jack, Lesser Amberjack. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review.  North Charleston, South Carolina.
  4. Farmer, N.A., Malinowski, R.P., McGovern, M.F. and Rubec, P.J. (2016), Stock Complexes for Fisheries Management in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine and Coastal Fisheries, 8: 177-201. doi:10.1080/19425120.2015.1024359
  5. Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall, 1993. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p.