Snowy Grouper

Snowy Grouper

Snowy Grouper

Epinephelus niveatus

AKA:

Chocolate Grouper

Managed by:

SAFMC


Physical description:

The coloration of this species varies with the size of the fish. Smaller fish are dark brown overall, punctuated with coin-size pearly white spots on the sides. A distinctive black, saddle-shaped blotch occurs on the caudal peduncle and extends down below the the lateral line. Larger snowy groupers usually lose the white spots and caudal saddle and become dark brown with a slight coppery tint. The spiny portion of the dorsal fin has a black margin.


Biological description:

Snowy groupers can be found in the outer continental shelf of the South Atlantic Bight, which is characterized by ridges, terraces and precipitous cliffs. The species is distributed in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and the northern coast of Cuba. Snowy grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites, spawning from May to June and releasing more than 2 million eggs. Fish are capable of reproducing when they are 4 or 5 years old, about 18 to 20 inches long. They may reach a maximum age of 17 years and a weight of 70 pounds. Snowy grouper are bottom fish and ambush their prey.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations

Commercial:

  • CLOSED, effective June 22, 2017.
  • Size Limit: None
  • Trip Limit: CLOSED, effective June 22, 2017. 200-pound trip limit (gw); 
  • Regulatory Remarks: CLOSED, effective June 22, 2017
    • 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 degrees 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. See the Handling and Release Protocol from NOAA Fisheries or call 727-824-5312.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates:

Recreational:

  • CLOSED, effective September 1, 2017
  • Size Limit: None
  • Bag Limit: Only 1 per VESSEL per day; Included in Aggregate Grouper Bag Limit of 3 grouper per person/day.
  • Fishing Season: Harvest allowed May 1 through August 31 annually; Season is closed January 1 - April 30 and September 1 through December 31 annually.
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Fishing Season: Recreational harvest of snowy grouper is limited to May 1 through August 31 annually; the fishery will be closed to recreational harvest January 1 - April 30 and September 1 through December 31 annually.
    • Max of 1 snowy grouper per VESSEL/day.
    • Included in Aggregate Grouper bag limit of 3 groupers per person/day. Aggregate species include: gag, black, snowy, misty, red, scamp, yellowedge, yellowfin, yellowmouth grouper; blueline, sand, golden tilefish; coney, graysby, red hind and rock hind.
    • Annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure January 1 through April 30. Prohibition on recreational and commercial harvest or possession of: gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper.
    • 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 degrees N. latitude.
    • The sale of bag-limit caught snapper grouper species is prohibited.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) - This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates: