Regulations by Species

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Federal Fishing Regulations for South Atlantic Waters

Federal fishing regulations are complex and change regularly based on new management measures and as fisheries open and close with the season once annual catch limits have been reached. The resources below will help fishermen and the public keep up to date on current federal fishing regulations through regulation summary fact sheets, individual species profiles, brochures, booklets, and the Council's mobile app, SA Fishing Regulations.

Looking for regulations on a specific species?? Scroll down this page or Click Here to view Regulations by Species

Looking for specific regulatory information on all South Atlantic fisheries? Click here for the Code of Federal Regulations

Complimentary copies of the publications listed below are available from the Council office by contacting :
Amber Von Harten, Outreach Specialist - amber.vonharten@safmc.net 
Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer - kim.iverson@safmc.net

843-571-4366 phone
1-866-SAFMC-10 (toll free)

RESOURCES - Regulations & Information

The Council offers several ways to keep up to speed on the fishing regulations and other information on areas managed by the Council. Below are links to download the Council's mobile app, SA Fishing Regulations; fact sheets for commercial and recreational regulations for the snapper grouper and mackerel fisheries; information and regulations on deepwater Marine Protected Areas and the Oculina Bank managed areas.


Mobile App - SA Fishing Regulations

Mobile App - SA Fishing Regulations

Available for:
Iphone/Ipad & Android


Snapper Grouper Regulations - Summary Fact Sheets:

Snapper Grouper Commercial Regulations

Commercial Regulations - Snapper Grouper Fishery
(under revision; check back for updated version)

Snapper Grouper Recreational Regulations

Recreational Regulations - Snapper Grouper Fishery
(under revision; check back for updated version)


Coastal Migratory Pelagics Regulations Summary Fact Sheet:

Commercial Regulations Summary -

South Atlantic Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery (King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia)

(updated February 2016)


Bringing Dolphin, Wahoo, and Snapper Grouper Species Back from The Bahamas - Regulations

Regulation Update - Effective January 27, 2016: 

New federal regulations will allow recreational fishermen to bring fillets of dolphin and wahoo from The Bahamas into the U.S. federal waters and update regulations that currently allow recreational fishermen to bring snapper-grouper fillets from The Bahamas into the U.S. federal waters. 

Regulations are as follows:

  • Two fillets are equivalent to one fish for dolphin, wahoo, and snapper-grouper species brought into the U.S. federal waters from The Bahamas.

  • Require fishers to retain skin on the entire fillet of dolphin, wahoo, and snapper grouper species.

  • Require fishing gear to be stowed while transiting the U.S. federal waters from The Bahamas. A vessel carrying fillets of dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper species lawfully harvested in Bahamian waters would not be allowed to stop in the U.S. federal waters during the transit.

  • Require stamped and dated passports, as well as valid current Bahamian cruising and fishing permits to prove that the recreational fishers were in The Bahamas. 

  • Not allow recreationally caught dolphin, wahoo, or snapper-grouper from The Bahamas to be sold or purchased in the U.S. 

  • Not exempt recreational fishermen from any other Federal fishing regulations such as fishing seasons, recreational bag limits, size limits, and prohibited species.


​SAFMC Deepwater Marine Protected Areas - Regulations


​Oculina Bank Regulations

(Habitat Area of Particular Concern/Experimental Closed Area) 

 Overview of the eight deepwater Marine Protected  Areas in South Atlantic federal waters including  regulations, maps, coordinates, and MPA information.

  Download booklet (PDF)

 Overview of regulations for the Oculina Bank Habitat Area  of Particular Concern (HAPC) and the Oculina Experimental  Closed Area (OECA)

 Download brochure (PDF)


For additional regulatory updates, see the Announcements section of the website.


Regulations by Species

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is responsible for the conservation and management of many species found in Federal waters in the south Atlantic region. For example, a total of 59 species of fish are included in the Snapper Grouper management complex.

Fishery management plans developed by the Council include:

  • Calico Scallop
  • Coastal Migratory Pelagics (includes king & Spanish mackerel and cobia)
  • Coral
  • Dolphin and Wahoo
  • Golden Crab
  • Sargassum
  • Shrimp (including rock shrimp)
  • Snapper /Grouper
  • Spiny Lobster.

NOAA Fisheries monitors commercial and recreational landings for species managed by the Council. Keep track of how much of the Annual Catch Limit has been caught by visiting the following pages:

NOAA Fisheries: Annual Catch Limit Monitoring – Commercial

NOAA Fisheries: Annual Catch Limit Monitoring - Recreational


Species Regulations - Know your Regulations

Listed below are species commonly found in the South Atlantic. Many are managed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and others are managed jointly with other Fishery Management Councils and Commissions or state fishery management agencies.

Click on the common name of each species for additional information including illustrations, biological characteristics, current regulations and/or contact information regarding the regulatory agency responsible for its management.

The fish graphics and biological characteristics found on this site were provided courtesy of Chuck Manooch and Duane Raver from their book, Fishes of the Southeastern United States.

Common Name

Species Name

Managing Agency(s)

Almaco Jack

Seriola rivoliana

SAFMC

Atlantic Spadefish

Chaetodipterus faber

SAFMC

Banded Rudderfish

Seriola zonata

SAFMC

Bank Sea Bass

Centropristis ocyurus

SAFMC

Bar Jack

Carangoides ruber

SAFMC

Blackfin Snappper

Lutjanus buccanella

SAFMC

Black Grouper

Mycteroperca bonaci

SAFMC

Black Margate

Anisotremus surinamensis

see state regulations

Black Sea Bass

Centropristis striata

SAFMC

Black Snapper

Apsilus dentatus

SAFMC

Blue Runner

Caranx crysos

SAFMC

Blueline Tilefish

Caulolatilus microps

SAFMC

Blue Stripe Grunt

Haemulon sciurus

see state regulations

Cero

Scomberomorus regalis

SAFMC , GMFMC

Cobia

Rachycentron canadum

SAFMC , GMFMC

Coney

Epinephelus fulvus

SAFMC

Cottonwick

Haemulon melanurum

SAFMC

Cubera Snapper

Lutjanus cyanopterus

SAFMC

Dog Snapper

Lutjanus jocu

SAFMC

Dolphin Fish

Coryphaena hippurus

SAFMC , GMFMC

French Grunt

Haemulon flavolineatum

see state regulations

Gag Grouper

Mycteroperca microlepis

SAFMC

Golden Crab

Chaceon fenneri

SAFMC

Golden Tilefish

Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps

SAFMC

Goliath Grouper

Epinephelus itajara

SAFMC

Graysby

Epinephelus cruentatus

SAFMC

Gray Snapper

Lutjanus griseus

SAFMC

Gray Triggerfish

Balistes capriscus

SAFMC

Greater Amberjack

Seriola dumerili

SAFMC

Hogfish

Lachnolaimus maximus

SAFMC

Jolthead Porgy

Calamus bajonado

SAFMC

King Mackerel

Scomberomorus cavalla

SAFMC, GMFMC

Knobbed Porgy

Calamus nodosus

SAFMC

Lane Snapper

Lutjanus synagris

SAFMC

Lesser Amberjack

Seriola fasciata

SAFMC

Little Tunny

Euthynnus alletteratus

SAFMC , GMFMC

Longspine Porgy

Stenotomus caprinus

SAFMC

Mahogany Snapper

Lutjanus mahogoni

SAFMC

Margate

Haemulon album

SAFMC

Misty Grouper

Epinephelus mystacinus

SAFMC

Mutton Snapper

Lutjanus analis

SAFMC

Nassau Grouper

Epinephelus striatus

SAFMC

Ocean Triggerfish

Canthidermis sufflamen

SAFMC

Queen Snapper

Etelis oculatus

SAFMC

Queen Triggerfish

Balistes vetula

see state regulations

Red Grouper

Epinephelus morio

SAFMC

Red Hind

Epinephelus guttatus

SAFMC

Red Porgy

Pagrus pagrus

SAFMC

Red Snapper

Lutjanus campechanus

SAFMC

Rock Hind

Epinephelus adscensionis

SAFMC

Rock Sea Bass

Centropristis philadelphica

SAFMC

Rock Shrimp

Sicyonia brevirostris

SAFMC

Sailors Choice

Haemulon parra

SAFMC

Sand Tilefish

Malacanthus plumieri

SAFMC

Saucereye Porgy

Calamus calamus

SAFMC

Scamp

Mycteroperca phenax

SAFMC

Schoolmaster

Lutjanus apodus

SAFMC

Scup

Stenotomus chrysops

SAFMC

Sheepshead

Archosargus probatocephalus

see state regulations

Silk Snapper

Lutjanus vivanus

SAFMC

Snowy Grouper

Epinephelus niveatus

SAFMC

Spanish Mackerel

Scomberomorus maculatus

SAFMC

Speckled Hind

Epinephelus drummondhayi

SAFMC

Spiny Lobster

Panulirus argus

SAFMC, GMFMC

Tiger Grouper

Mycteroperca tigris

see state regulations

Tomtate

Haemulon aurolineatum

SAFMC

Vermilion Snapper

Rhomboplites aurorubens

SAFMC

Wahoo

Acanthocybium solanderi

SAFMC

Warsaw Grouper

Epinephelus nigritus

SAFMC

Whitebone Porgy

Calamus leucosteus

SAFMC

White Grunt

Haemulon plumieri

SAFMC

Wreckfish

Polyprion americanus

SAFMC

Yellowfin grouper Mycteroperca venenosa SAFMC

Yellowmouth Grouper

Mycteroperca interstilitialis

SAFMC

Yellowtail Snapper

Ocyrus chrysurus

SAFMC

Penaeid Shrimp

Litopenaeus setiferus, Farfantepenaeus duorarum, Farfantepenaeus aztecus

SAFMC