Wreckfish

Wreckfish

Polyprion americanus

Managed by:

SAFMC


Physical description:

Wreckfish are a bass-like species. They are bluish grey on the back and paler with a silvery sheen on the belly. Their fins are blackish brown. Juveniles have black blotches on their head and body. Wreckfish have a big head with a big mouth and a rough bony ridge across the upper part of the gill cover.


Biological description:

Wreckfish are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Grand Banks, Newfoundland, to La Plata River, Argentina, and in the eastern Atlantic Ocean from Norway to South Africa. They migrate throughout the North Atlantic during their life cycle. Although they're found all along the U.S. East Coast, most of the commercial fishery operates over the Charleston Bump, located 80 to 100 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.

In general, wreckfish live in water ranging from 140 feet up to 3,300 feet deep. In the first several years of their life, they're found in surface waters, often near floating debris. As adults, wreckfish prefer steep, rocky bottoms and deep reefs, which provide food and shelter. They're often found near caves and overhangs.

Wreckfish are large predators in the dynamic food chain of the Charleston Bump. The Charleston Bump deflects the Gulf Stream offshore, causing upwelling of nutrient-rich water that supports the growth and production of phytoplankton (tiny plants), and the zooplankton (tiny animals) that feed on phytoplankton. Fish and squid living in the water column travel toward the surface at night to feed on the zooplankton. During the day, these fish return to the deep to avoid predators and digest their meal in the deep, dark, cooler waters where wreckfish live. Wreckfish lurk in caves and under overhangs on the Bump and come out to feed on these fish and squid migrating during the day. There are no known predators of wreckfish.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations

Commercial:

  • Size Limit: None
  • Trip Limit: Individual Transferable Quota system in place; only ITQ shareholders or their designees may commercially harvest wreckfish.
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Spawning season closure: January 15 through April 15
    • 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. 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, 2016 - June 30, 2017. The fishery will open on July 1, 2017.
  • Size Limit: None
  • Trip Limit: 1 wreckfish per vessel per day
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Effective April 16, 2012 - 5% of the Annual Catch Limit for wreckfish has been allocated to the recreational sector.
    • Open Season is July 1 through August 31 annually.
    • Annual closures: January 1 through June 30 and September 1 through December 31
    • All species must be landed with head and fins intact.
    • The sale of bag-limit caught snapper grouper species is prohibited.
    • 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.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) - This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.
  • Additional Updates: