Gray Triggerfish

Grey Triggerfish

Gray Triggerfish

Balistes capriscus

AKA

taly, leatherjacket, leatherneck

Managed by:

SAFMC


Physical description:

The Gray Triggerfish has large incisor teeth and a deep laterally compressed body covered with tough, sandpaper-like skin. Unlike their cousin, the filefish, triggerfish have more than one dorsal spine. The action of this spine gives the triggerfish its (common) name. The first spine is large, and when erect it remains so until the smaller second spine is deflexed, triggering the first. the gray triggerfish is easily distinguished by its drab color from the queen triggerfish, which is vividly colored.


Biological description:

The gray triggerfish is found on both sides of the tropical and temperate Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, and from England southward along the coast of Africa. Along the southwestern United States, it typically inhabits hard bottom areas such as wercks, rock outcroppings and coral reefs in waters 80-300 feet in depth. Spawning occurs off shore during the spring and summer, when fish are 3 years old or about 12 inches long. Unlike most reef fish, triggerfish have demersal eggs that are deposited in guarded nests. Age and growth studies suggest that females of the species grow larger and live longer than males, reaching lengths of more than 22 inches. Triggerfish use undulating motions of their dorsal and anal fins to ascend and descend vertically and to hover over the bottom searching for food. The species uses its powerful teeth to dislodge and crush small mussels, sea urchins and barnacles. It may also feed on plankton.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations

Commercial:

  • OPEN, effective January 1, 2017. The fishery will remain open until the Annual Catch Limit for the January through June season has been met or is projected to be met.
  • NOTE: Effective July 1, 2015, new regulations in effect:
    • 1,000-lb (whole weight) commercial trip limit.
    • 12-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of NC, SC, and GA.
    • 14-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of the east coast of FL.
    • Commercial split season for gray triggerfish - the Annual Catch Limit will be split in half with half the quota available January 1 through June 30 and the second half of the quota available July 1 through December 31 annually. Each season will remain open until NOAA Fisheries determines that the seasonal ACL has been met or is projected to be met.
  • Size Limit:
    • Effective July 1, 2015: 
      • 12-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of NC, SC, and GA.
      • 14-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of the east coast of FL.
  • Trip Limit:
    • Effective July 1, 2015: 
      • 1,000-lb (whole weight) trip limit
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • All species must be landed with head and fins intact.
    • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28 degress N. latitude.
    • After the commercial quota is met, all purchase and sale is prohibited and harvest and/or possession is limited to the recreational bag limit. This prohibition does not apply to fish harvested, landed, and sold prior to the quota being reached and held in cold storage by a dealer. Quotas are given in gutted weights.
    • Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/HandlingandReleaseRequirements or call 727/824-5312.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. For current  information on commercial ACLs (quotas), visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/acl_monitoring/commercial_sa/index.html
  • Additional Updates:

Recreational:

  • OPEN
  • Size Limit:
    • Effective July 1, 2015 - new size limits in place.
      • 12-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of NC, SC, and GA.
      • 14-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of the east coast of FL.
  • Bag Limit: Included in the 20 Fish Aggregate Bag Limit of 20 fish per person/day (inclusive of all fish in the snapper grouper complex currently not under a bag limit).
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Included in the 20 Fish Aggregate Bag Limit - There is an aggregate bag limit of 20 fish per person inclusive of all fish in the snapper grouper complex currently not under a bag limit. A fisherman may catch their bag limits and additionally retain up to 20 other fish for which there is no bag limit, including this species.
    • All species must be landed with head and fins intact.
    • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks (offset or non-offset) is required for all species in the snapper grouper complex when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits in waters North of 28 degress N. latitude.
    • The sale of bag-limit caught snapper grouper species is prohibited.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. For current  information on recreational ACLs, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/acl_monitoring/recreational_sa/index.html
  • Additional Updates: