Gray Triggerfish Regulations

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 wrecks, 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
  • NOTE:  Commercial harvest of this species is managed under a split season - the Annual Catch Limit is divided with half available January 1 through June 30 and half available July 1 through December 31 annually. Each season remains open until the seasonal quota has been met or is projected to be met.  Any remaining quota from the first season rolls over to the second season.
  • Limited access permit required
  • Minimum Size Limit: 12-inch fork length
  • Trip Limit: 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 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 (while recreational harvest is open). 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.
    • Charter/Headboat and Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. Click here to learn more or call 727-824-5312.
    • Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL, Commercial ACL
    • Allowable Gear:
      • Vertical hook-and-line including hand-held hook-and-line and bandit gear. Spearfishing gear without rebreathers.
      • Powerheads, except where expressly prohibited in Special Management Zones (SMZs) and in the EEZ off South Carolina.
  •  

Recreational:

  • OPEN
  • Minimum Size Limit:
    • 12-inch fork length minimum size limit in federal waters off of NC, SC, GA, and the East Coast of FL, effective March 30, 2020.
  • Bag Limit: Included in the 20 Fish Aggregate Bag Limit of 20 fish per person/day 
    • Beginning March 30, 2020, the 20-fish per person per day aggregate bag limit remains in effect, however, an angler will be limited to harvesting 10 fish of any one species in the 20-fish aggregate
    • The aggregate bag limit applies to the following species: whitebone porgy, jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye porgy, scup, gray triggerfish, bar jack, almaco jack, banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, white grunt, margate, sailor’s choice, and Atlantic spadefish.
  • 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 degrees N. latitude.
    • The sale of bag-limit caught snapper grouper species is prohibited.
    • Charter/Headboat and Commercial snapper grouper vessels must have onboard NMFS approved sea turtle release gear and follow smalltooth sawfish release protocol. Click here to learn more or call 727-824-5312.
    • 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