red grouper

Scientific Name

Epinephelus morio

Stock Status

Overfishing – No

Overfished – No

Stock Assessment

SEDAR 61



Recreational Regulations

Federal Regulations

  • Open: January 01 – January 31

    Closed: February 01 – March 31

    Open: March 31 – July 20

    Closed: July 21 – December 31

  • 2 Bag Limit
  • 4 Aggregate Limit
  • Minimum Size: 20 in Total Length
  • Gear Description: 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.

  • Notes:

    Anglers required to have a venting tool or descending device rigged and ready to use when fishing for reef fish species in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. For more information, see NOAA Descend Act.

Shallow-water Grouper Closure (Map of the 20-fathom break)

Title 50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
Subpart B – Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico – §622.34 Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish

(d) Seasonal closure of the recreational sector for shallow-water grouper (SWG). The recreational sector for SWG, in or from the Gulf EEZ, is closed each year from February 1 through March 31, in the portion of the Gulf EEZ seaward of rhumb lines connecting, in order, the points in the following table. During the closure, the bag and possession limit for SWG in or from the Gulf EEZ seaward of the following rhumb lines is zero.

Commercial Regulations

Gulf Reef Fish Permit – Gulf of Mexico

  • IFQ

  • Quota: Commercial ACT – 2,790,000 lbs GW
    83.4% harvested
  • Individual Quota: Red grouper is managed under an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. Anyone commercially fishing for red grouper must possess allocation and follow established protocols.
  • Notes:

    An eastern Gulf reef fish bottom longline endorsement is required to use bottom longline for Gulf reef fish in the federal waters east of 85°30′ longitude.

Areas

AT 047

AT 047 HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 27°54.426′ N 89°49.404′ W27°54.486′ N 89°46.464′ W27°51.874′ N 89°46.397′ W27°51.814′ N 89°49.336′ WDeployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

AT 357

AT 357 HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 27°36.259' N 89°43.068' W 27°36.315' N 89°40.136' W27°33.703' N 89°40.073' W27°33.646' N 89°43.004' WDeployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Alabama Special Management Zone

The Alabama SMZ is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 30°02.5′ 88°07.7′30°02.6′ 87°59.3′29°55.0′ 87°55.5′29°54.5′ 88°07.5′30°02.5′ 88°07.7′The Alabama SMZ consists of artificial reefs and surrounding areas. In the Alabama SMZ, fishing by a vessel that is operating as a charter vessel or headboat, a vessel that does not have a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, as required under §622.20(a)(1), or a vessel with such a permit fishing for Gulf reef fish is limited to hook-and-line gear with three or fewer hooks per line and spearfishing gear. A person aboard a vessel that uses on any trip gear other than hook-and-line gear with three or fewer hooks per line and spearfishing gear in the Alabama SMZ is limited on that trip to the bag limits for Gulf reef fish specified in §622.38(b) and, for Gulf reef fish for which no bag limit is specified in §622.38(b), the vessel is limited to 5 percent, by weight, of all fish on board or landed. 

Alabama Alps Reef

Alabama Alps Reef HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 29°16.160′ 88°20.525′ 29°15.427′ 88°18.990′ 29°13.380′ 88°19.051′ 29°14.140′ 88°20.533′ 29°16.160′ 88°20.525′Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the area of the HAPC. 

East Flower Garden Banks

East Flower Garden Bank is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 27°59′14.4″ N 93°38′58.2″ W27°59′14.4″ N 93°34′03.5″ W27°52′36.5″ N 93°34′03.5″ W27°52′36.5″ N 93°38′58.2″ W27°59′14.4″ N 93°38′58.2″ WDeployment of bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round.

EEZ Tortugas North

The area is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points: From point A at 24°40′00″ N. lat., 83°06′00″ W. long. to point B at 24°46′00″ N. lat., 83°06′00″ W. long. to point C at 24°46′00″ N. lat., 83°00′00″ W. long.; thence along the line denoting the seaward limit of Florida's waters, as shown on the current edition of NOAA chart 11434, to point A at 24°40′00″ N. lat., 83°06′00″ W. long.Fishing for any species and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round. 

Florida Middle Grounds

Florida Middle Grounds HAPC is the area bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points: 28°42.5′ N 84°24.8′ W28°42.5′ N 84°16.3′ W28°11.0′ N 84°00.0′ W28°11.0′ N 84°07.0′ W28°26.6′ N 84°24.8′ W28°42.5′ N 84°24.8′ WDeployment of bottom longline, bottom trawl, dredge, pot, or trap is prohibited year-round. 

Green Canyon 852

Green Canyon 852 HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 27°08.354′ 91°08.929′; 27°05.740′ 91°08.963′; 27°05.762′ 91°10.610′; 27°08.376′ 91°10.567′; 27°08.354′ 91°08.929′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Gulf Hogfish Management Area

The Gulf of Mexico Hogfish Management Area is North of the line extending due west from 25°09′ North latitude off the west coast of Florida. Florida Keys hogfish are managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and require a South Atlantic Snapper/Grouper Commercial Permit.

Harte Bank

Harte Bank HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 26°40.826′ 96°36.590′; 26°40.789′ 96°32.220′; 26°37.992′ 96°32.308′; 26°38.043′ 96°36.636′; 26°40.826′ 96°36.590′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

L&W Pinnacles and Scamp Reef

L & W Pinnacles and Scamp Reef HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 29°18.595′ 87°48.757′; 29°18.484′ 87°50.688′; 29°19.754′ 87°52.484′; 29°20.401′ 87°51.449′; 29°20.095′ 87°50.933′; 29°20.832′ 87°46.631′; 29°21.473′ 87°46.326′; 29°21.314′ 87°45.535′; 29°22.518′ 87°43.465′; 29°21.144′ 87°42.632′; 29°19.269′ 87°45.525′; 29°18.595′ 87°48.757′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the area of the HAPC.

Madison Swanson

The Madison and Swanson sites are bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 29°17′ 85°50′; 29°17′ 85°38′; 29°06′ 85°38′; 29°06′ 85°50′; 29°17′ 85°50′.Fishing prohibited year-round. Possession of reef fish prohibited even for vessels in transit unless the vessel has an operating vessel monitoring system, a valid federal commercial Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Permit, and fishing gear is appropriately stowed. These prohibitions do not apply to Atlantic Highly Migratory Species.

McGrail Bank

McGrail Bank HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 27°59′06.0″ 92°37′19.2″; 27°59′06.0″ 92°32′17.4″; 27°55′55.5″ 92°32′17.4″; 27°55′55.5″ 92°37′19.2″; 27°59′06.0″ 92°37′19.2″.Deployment of bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round. 

Mississippi Canyon 118

Mississippi Canyon 118 HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 28°53.183′ 88°30.789′; 28°53.216′ 88°27.819′; 28°50.602′88°27.782′; 28°48.944′ 88°27.759′; 28°48.962′ 88°30.727′; 28°53.183′ 88°30.789′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Pulley Ridge

Pulley Ridge HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points: A 24°58′18″ 83°38′33″; B 24°58′18″ 83°37′00″; C 24°41′11″ 83°37′00″; D 24°40′00″ 83°41′22″; E 24°43′55″ 83°47′15″; A 24°58′18″ 83°38′33″.Deployment of bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round. 

Pulley Ridge South Portion A

Pulley Ridge South Portion A HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 24°40.000′ 83°41.366′; 24°39.666′ 83°42.648′; 24°47.555′ 83°55.240′; 24°57.065′ 83°48.405′; 24°52.859′ 83°41.841′; 24°43.917′ 83°47.250′; 24°40.000′ 83°41.366′.Deployment of a bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Reef Fish Bottom Longline Seasonal Prohibition

Seasonal prohibitions applicable to bottom longline fishing for Gulf reef fish. From June through August each year, bottom longlining for Gulf reef fish is prohibited in the portion of the Gulf EEZ east of 85°30' W. long. that is shoreward of rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points:28°58.70′ 85°30.00′28°59.25′ 85°26.70′28°57.00′ 85°13.80′28°47.40′ 85°3.90′28°19.50′ 84°43.00′28°0.80′ 84°20.00′26°48.80′ 83°40.00′25°17.00′ 83°19.00′24°54.00′ 83°21.00′24°29.50′ 83°12.30′24°26.50′ 83°00.00′.Within the prohibited area and time period specified above, a vessel with bottom longline gear on board may not possess Gulf reef fish unless the bottom longline gear is appropriately stowed, and a vessel that is using bottom longline gear to fish for species other than Gulf reef fish may not possess Gulf reef fish. An Eastern Bottom Longline Endorsement is required to use a bottom longline to harvest Gulf reef fish in federal waters east of 85°30' W. 

Reef Fish Longline and Buoy Gear Restricted Area

The seaward coordinates of the Reef Fish Longline and Buoy Gear Restricted Area can be found on Table 1 of Appendix B to Part 622—Gulf Areas.A person aboard a vessel that uses longline or buoy gear in the reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area is limited to bag limits for Gulf reef fish and, for Gulf reef fish for which no bag limit is specified, the vessel is limited to 5%, by weight, of all fish on board or landed. 

Reef Fish Stressed Area

The seaward coordinates of the Reef Fish Stressed Area are listed on Table 2 of Appendix B to Part 622—Gulf Areas.A powerhead may not be used in the stressed area to take Gulf reef fish. A roller trawl may not be used in the stressed area. Possession of a powerhead and mutilated Gulf reef fish in the stressed areas constitutes prima facie evidence that such reef fish was taken with a powerhead in the stressed area.

Roughtounge Reef

Roughtongue Reef HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 29°27.596′ 87°37.527′; 29°27.621′ 87°31.552′; 29°25.007′ 87°31.539′; 29°24.981′ 87°37.510′; 29°27.596′ 87°37.527′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Southern Bank

Southern Bank HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 27°26.923′ 96°31.902′; 27°26.989′ 96°30.881′; 27°25.958′ 96°31.134′; 27°25.958′ 96°31.892′; 27°26.923′ 96°31.902′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Steamboat Lumps

Steamboat Lumps is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 28°14′ 84°48′; 28°14′ 84°37′; 28°03′ 84°37′; 28°03′ 84°48′'; 28°14′ 84°48′.Possession of Reef Fish prohibited year-round, except when in transit with fishing gear stowed. Possession of all fish is prohibited November through April, except when in transit with fishing gear stowed. All Fishing Prohibited with the exception of surface trawling which is allowed May through October.

Stetson Bank

Stetson Bank HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 28°10′38.3″ 94°18′36.5″; 28°10′38.3″ 94°17′06.3″; 28°09′18.6″ 94°17′06.3″; 28°09′18.6″ 94°18′36.5″; 28°10′38.3″ 94°18′36.5″.Deployment of bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round. 

The Edges

The Edges is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 28°51′ 85°16′; 28°51′ 85°04′; 28°14′ 84°42′; 28°14′ 84°54′; 28°51′ 85°16′.All fishing prohibited January through April. Possession of any fish species is prohibited January through April, except when in transit with fishing gear stowed.

Tortugas South

Tortugas South area is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 24°33′00″ 83°09′00″; 24°33′00″ 83°05′00″; 24°18′00″ 83°05′00″; 24°18′00″ 83°09′00″; 24°33′00″ 83°09′00″.Fishing for any species and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round. 

Viosca Knoll 826

Viosca Knoll 826 HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 29°10.920′ 88°03.509′; 29°10.877′ 87°59.460′; 29°07.974′ 87°59.448′; 29°08.017′ 88°03.532′; 29°10.920′ 88°03.509′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

Viosca Knoll 862/906

Viosca Knoll 862/906 HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 29°07.640′ 88°23.608′; 29°07.603′ 88°20.590′; 29°03.749′ 88°20.554′; 29°03.734′ 88°22.016′; 29°02.367′ 88°21.998′; 29°02.281′ 88°24.972′; 29°07.568′ 88°25.044′; 29°07.592′ 88°25.044′; 29°07.676′ 88°25.045′; 29°07.640′ 88°23.608′.Deployment of a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap, and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the area of the HAPC. This prohibition does not apply to a fishing vessel issued a Gulf royal red shrimp endorsement, as specified in §622.50(c), while the vessel is fishing for royal red shrimp.

West Florida Wall

West Florida Wall HAPC is bounded by rhumb lines connecting the following points in order: 26°28.835′ 84°47.955′; 26°28.816′ 84°46.754′; 26°10.471′ 84°42.076′; 26°10.528′ 84°44.577′; 26°25.028′ 84°47.986′; 26°25.100′ 84°47.980′; 26°28.835′ 84°47.955′.Deployment of bottom-tending gear (bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot or trap) and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round. 

West Flower Garden Banks

West Flower Garden Bank is bounded by rhumb lines connecting, in order, the following points: 27°55′22.8″ 93°53′09.6″; 27°55′22.8″ 93°46′46.0″; 27°49′03.0″ 93°46′46.0″; 27°49′03.0″ 93°53′09.6″; 27°55′22.8″ 93°53′09.6″.Deployment of bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels is prohibited year-round.

Conditions

General Info

This is a limited access permit – new permits are not issued and you can only obtain a permit by purchasing one from an existing permit holder.Species covered under this permit are part of the Individual Fishing Quota Program

Advanced Notice of Landing

The owner or operator of a vessel landing Gulf reef fish not managed under an IFQ program or Florida Keys/East Florida hogfish harvested in the Gulf is responsible for ensuring that NMFS is contacted at least 3 hours, but no more than 24 hours, in advance of landing to report the time, date, and location of landing, and the vessel identification number. The vessel must land at an approved landing location and within 1 hour after the time given in the landing notification. A vessel landing Gulf reef fish managed under an IFQ program must also comply with the requirements, as applicable.Submitting an advance landing notification. Authorized methods for contacting NMFS and submitting a completed landing notification include the VMS unit, or another contact method approved by NMFS.Landing prior to the notification time. The owner or operator of a vessel that has completed a landing notification and submitted it to NMFS may land prior to the notification time, only if an authorized officer is present at the landing site, is available to meet the vessel, and has authorized the owner or operator of the vessel to land prior to the notification time.Changes to a landing notification. The owner or operator of a vessel who has submitted a landing notification to NMFS may make changes to the notification by submitting a superseding notification. If the initial superseding notification makes changes to the time of landing that is later than the original time in the notification, the vessel does not need to wait an additional 3 hours to land. If the initial superseding notification makes changes to the landing location, the time of landing is earlier than previously specified, or more than one superseding notification is submitted on a trip, the vessel must wait an additional 3 hours to land.Approved landing locations. IFQ species and Gulf reef fish not managed under an IFQ program, and Florida Keys/East Florida hogfish harvested in the Gulf, must be landed at an approved landing location. Landing locations must be approved by the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement prior to a vessel landing these species at these sites. Proposed landing locations may be submitted to NMFS; however, new landing locations will be approved only at the end of each calendar-year quarter. To have a landing location approved by the end of the calendar-year quarter, it must be submitted at least 45 days before the end of the calendar-year quarter.

At Sea Observer

Vessels with this permit must carry a NMFS-approved observer, if the vessel's trip is selected by NOAA Fisheries for observer coverage. Vessel permit renewal is contingent upon compliance.Notification to NOAA Fisheries. When observer coverage is required, an owner or operator must advise NOAA Fisheries in writing not less than 5 days in advance of each trip of the following:Departure information (port, dock, date, and time).Expected landing information (port, dock, and date).Observer accommodations and access. An owner or operator of a vessel on which a NMFS-approved observer is embarked must:Provide accommodations and food that are equivalent to those provided to the crew.Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's communications equipment and personnel upon request for the transmission and receipt of messages related to the observer's duties.Allow the observer access to and use of the vessel's navigation equipment and personnel upon request to determine the vessel's position.Allow the observer free and unobstructed access to the vessel's bridge, working decks, holding bins, weight scales, holds, and any other space used to hold, process, weigh, or store fish.Allow the observer to inspect and copy the vessel's log, communications logs, and any records associated with the catch and distribution of fish for that trip.

Reporting

Vessels with a commercial Gulf Reef Fish Permit, or whose vessel fishes or lands reef fish in or from state waters adjoining the Gulf EEZ, who is selected to report, must maintain a logbook on a form available from NOAA Fisheries.These completed fishing records must be submitted to NOAA Fisheries postmarked no later than 7 days after the end of each fishing trip. If no fishing occurred during a calendar month, a report so stating must be submitted on one of the forms postmarked no later than 7 days after the end of that month. Information to be reported is indicated on the form and its accompanying instructions.Contact 305-361-4581 for assistance with commercial logbooks.

Hook Requirements

For a person on board a vessel to fish for Gulf reef fish in the Gulf EEZ, the vessel must possess and such person must use Non-stainless steel circle hooks. Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits, except that other non-stainless steel hook types may be used when commercial fishing for yellowtail snapper with natural baits in an area south of a line extending due west from 25°09′ N. lat. off the west coast of Monroe County, Florida, to the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic inter-council boundary.

VMS Requirements

An owner or operator of a vessel that has been issued a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish must ensure that such vessel has an operating VMS approved by NMFS for use in the Gulf reef fish fishery on board at all times whether or not the vessel is underway, unless exempted by NMFS under the power-down exemptions. An operating VMS includes an operating mobile transmitting unit on the vessel and a functioning communication link between the unit and NMFS as provided by a NMFS-approved communication service provider. NMFS OLE maintains a current list of approved VMS units and communication providers. If a VMS unit approved for the Gulf reef fish fishery is removed from the approved list by NMFS OLE, a vessel owner who purchased and installed such a VMS unit prior to its removal from the approved list, may be considered to be in compliance. At the end of a VMS unit's service life, it must be replaced with a currently approved unit for the fishery.Hourly reporting requirement. An owner or operator of a vessel must ensure that the required VMS unit transmits a signal indicating the vessel's accurate position at least once an hour, 24 hours a day every day.In-port exemption. While in port, an owner or operator of a vessel with a type-approved VMS unit configured with the 4-hour reporting feature may utilize the 4-hour reporting feature rather than comply with the hourly reporting requirement. Once the vessel is no longer in port, the hourly reporting requirements applies. For the purposes of this section, "in port" means secured at a land-based facility, or moored or anchored after the return to a dock, berth, beach, seawall, or ramp.Power-down exemptions. An owner or operator of a vessel subject to the requirement to have a VMS operating at all times can be exempted from that requirement and may power down the required VMS unit if—The vessel will be continuously out of the water or in port, for more than 72 consecutive hours;The owner or operator of the vessel applies for and obtains a valid letter of exemption from NMFS OLE VMS personnel as specified in the NOAA Enforcement Vessel Monitoring System Requirements for the Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico. This is a one-time requirement. The letter of exemption must be maintained on board the vessel and remains valid for all subsequent power-down requests.Prior to each power-down, the owner or operator of the vessel files a report to NMFS OLE VMS program personnel, using the VMS unit's email, that includes the name of the person filing the report, vessel name, vessel U.S. Coast Guard documentation number or state registration number, commercial vessel reef fish permit number, vessel port location during VMS power down, estimated duration of the power down exemption, and reason for power down; and the owner or operator enters the power-down code through the use of the VMS Declaration form on the terminal and, prior to powering down the VMS, receives a confirmation, through the VMS terminal, that the form was successfully delivered.Declaration of fishing trip and gear. Prior to departure for each trip, a vessel owner or operator must report to NMFS any fishery the vessel will participate in on that trip and the specific type(s) of fishing gear, using NMFS-defined gear codes, that will be on board the vessel. This information may be reported to NMFS using the toll-free number, 888-219-9228, or via an attached VMS terminal.Installation and activation of a VMS. Only a VMS that has been approved by NMFS for the Gulf reef fish fishery may be used, and the VMS must be installed by a qualified marine electrician. When installing and activating the NMFS-approved VMS, or when reinstalling and reactivating such VMS, the vessel owner or operator must—Follow procedures indicated on a NMFS-approved installation and activation checklist for the applicable fishery, which is available from NMFS Office for Law Enforcement; andSubmit to NMFS Office for Law Enforcement, Southeast Region, a statement certifying compliance with the checklist, as prescribed on the checklist.Submit to NMFS Office for Law Enforcement, Southeast Region, a vendor-completed installation certification checklist, which is available from NMFS Office for Law Enforcement, Southeast Region.Interference with the VMS. No person may interfere with, tamper with, alter, damage, disable, or impede the operation of the VMS, or attempt any of the same.Interruption of operation of the VMS. When a vessel's VMS is not operating properly, the owner or operator must immediately contact NMFS Office for Law Enforcement, Southeast Region: phone: 800-758-4833, and follow instructions from that office. If notified by NMFS that a vessel's VMS is not operating properly, the owner and operator must follow instructions from that office. In either event, such instructions may include, but are not limited to, manually communicating to a location designated by NMFS the vessel's positions or returning to port until the VMS is operable.Access to position data. As a condition of authorized fishing for or possession of fish in a fishery subject to VMS requirements in this section, a vessel owner or operator subject to the requirements for a VMS in this section must allow NMFS, the USCG, and their authorized officers and designees access to the vessel's position data obtained from the VMS.

Recreational Bag Limit

A recreational bag limit of Gulf reef fish may not be possessed aboard a vessel with a commercial Gulf reef fish permit under the following conditions:When commercial quantities of Gulf reef fish are aboard.When trawl gear or entangling net gear is on board.When a longline or buoy gear is on board and the vessel is fishing or has fished on a trip in the reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area.For a species when its quota has been reached and closure has been affected.

Sale Purchase Restrictions

A Gulf reef fish harvested in or from the EEZ or adjoining state waters by a vessel that has a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish may be sold or transferred only to a dealer who has a valid Gulf and South Atlantic dealer permit.

Smalltooth Sawfish Conservation

The owner or operator of a vessel for which this commercial vessel permit has been issued, that incidentally catches a smalltooth sawfish must:Keep the sawfish in the water at all times;If it can be done safely, untangle the line if it is wrapped around the saw;Cut the line as close to the hook as possible; andNot handle the animal or attempt to remove any hooks on the saw, except for with a long-handled dehooker.Also see Snapper Grouper Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Release Gear Requirements.

Turtle Release Gear Requirements

The owner or operator of a vessel for which a commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish has been issued must have the 2019 version of the NMFS document titled, "Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release with Minimal Injury" available for reference on board electronically or have a paper copy on board inside the wheelhouse, or within a waterproof case if there is no wheelhouse. In addition, the NMFS sea turtle handling and release guidelines placard must be posted inside the wheelhouse or an easily viewable area on the vessel if there is no wheelhouse.Such owner or operator must also comply with the sea turtle interaction mitigation measures, including the release gear and handling requirement.Those permitted vessels with a freeboard height of 4 ft (1.2 m) or less must have on board a net or hoist, tire or other support device, short-handled dehooker(s) for internal and external hooks, long-nose or needle-nose pliers, bolt cutters, monofilament line cutters, and at least two types of mouth openers or mouth gags.Those permitted vessels with a freeboard height of greater than 4 ft (1.2 m) must have on board a net or hoist, tire or other support device, long-handled line clipper or cutter, short-handled dehooker(s) for internal and external hooks, long-handled dehooker(s) for internal and external hooks, a long-handled device to pull an inverted "V" in the fishing line, long-nose or needle-nose pliers, bolt cutters, monofilament line cutters, and at least two types of mouth openers or mouth gags.Also, see Snapper Grouper Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Release Gear Requirements.

Descending Device Requirement

For a person on board a vessel to fish for Gulf reef fish in the Gulf EEZ, the vessel must possess and such person must use a Dehooking device. At least one dehooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks embedded in Gulf reef fish with minimum damage. The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process. The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the Gulf reef fish fishery.

Landing Fish Intact

Gulf Reef Fish must be landed with head and fins intact.

FL Permit Required

Each person harvesting reef fish species for commercial purposes in Florida state waters must possess a valid saltwater products license, a restricted species endorsement, and the appropriate federal permit.

Harvest Limits

Sector Annual Catch Limit Annual Catch Target
Stock  4,960,000 pounds
Commercial  2,940,000 pounds  2,790,000 pounds
Recreational  2,020,000 pounds  1,840,000 pounds

These values are expressed in MRIP-FES data currency.

Allocation


Additional Information

Description

Red grouper is present in the Western Atlantic from the Carolinas south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Bermuda; however, it is most abundant in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.  There have been reports of red grouper occasionally seen as far north as Massachusetts.  In general, red grouper is a dark brown color with a reddish hue on its back and sides, fading to a pale pink underneath.  Its face, around the cheek, snout and eyes, may have dark spots and the sides of the body usually have irregularly shaped white spots or blotches.  The red grouper’s mouth lining is a scarlet-orange color.  The anal, dorsal and tail fins have dark margins.  The Nassau grouper is a similar species, but it has a large black spot at the base of the tail fin whereas the red grouper does not have a black spot.

Maximum observed age:  29 years1, 2

Age at maturity:  ~ 3 years1, 3

Maximum weight:  50.71 pounds (23 kilograms)4

Maximum length:  49.21 inches (125 centimeters)1

Life History and Distribution

Red grouper prefers offshore rocky flat bottom habitats or rocky ledges at depths anywhere from 16 to 1083 feet (5 to 330 meters).5 This fish is rarely seen around coral reefs.  It is a bottom-dwelling fish; during spawning season, males are territorial and somewhat sedentary, excavating holes as home territories.  The spawning season occurs anywhere from January to early June depending on the area.  Generally, peak spawning occurs from March to May.  As with other species in the grouper family, red grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite, with all beginning life as females, and with most females transitioning to males between the ages of 7 to 14.6

References

  1. 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.
  2. SEDAR 61 Gulf of Mexico Red Grouper Final Stock Assessment Report, 2019
  3. 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
  4. Lieske, E. and R. Myers, 1994. Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers, 400 p.
  5. Randall, J.E., 1996. Caribbean reef fishes. Third Edition – revised and enlarged. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Ltd., Hong Kong. 3nd ed. 368 p.
  6. Allsop, D.J. and S.A. West, 2003. Constant relative age and size at sex change for sequentially hermaphroditic fish. J. Evol. Biol. 16(2003):921-929.