Red Grouper Regulations

Red Grouper

Red Grouper

Epinephelus morio

Managed by:

SAFMC


Physical description:

Red grouper are easily recognized by their color and by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin. The fin has a long second spine and an unnotched membrane. Most epinepheline groupers have a notched dorsal spine membrane and a third spine longer than the second. The body is deep brownish-red overall, with occasional white spots on the sides. Tiny black specks dot the cheeks and operculum. The red grouper is most closely related to the Nassau grouper, Epinephelus striatus, which has several vertical bars and blotches and is found more commonly on coral reefs in the West Indies.


Biological description:

Red grouper are distributed from North Carolina to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The species is most abundant along Florida's east and west coasts, and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. It inhabits ledges, crevices, and caverns of rocky limestone reefs and  lower-profile, live-bottom areas in waters 10 to 40 feet deep. The red grouper is a protogynous hermaphrodite and females are capable of reproducing at 4 years of age. Spawning takes place from March to July. Females usually release an average of 1.5 million pelagic eggs that remain at the surface for 30-40 days before settling to the bottom. The maximum age of red grouper is 25 years, with older fish reaching a size of 32.5 inches and 25 pounds. Red grouper usually ambush their prey and swallow it hole, preferring crabs, shrimp, lobster, octopus, squid and fish that live close to reefs.


South Atlantic Federal Regulations

 

Commercial:

  • OPEN in GA & E. FL
  • OPEN in NC & SC
  • Minimum Size Limit: 20-inch total length
  • Trip Limit: 200 pounds gutted weight
  • Spawning Season Closure NC & SC: January 1 - May 31
  • Spawning Season Closure GA & E. FL: January 1 - April 30
  • Limited access permit required
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure January 1 through April 30, with the exception of red grouper in federal waters off the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, which remain closed until June 1.
    • Shallow-Water Grouper: 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.
    • After the commercial annual catch limit 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 annual catch limit 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. See current information on Commercial ACLs (quotas) from NOAA Fisheries.
    • 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.

Additional Update: A Fishery Performance Report is available for this species - Click Here!

 

Recreational:

  • OPEN in GA & E. FL
  • OPEN in NC & SC
  • Minimum Size Limit: 20-inches total length
  • Bag Limit:  Included in the Aggregate Grouper Bag Limit of 3 per person/day
  • Spawning Season Closure NC & SC: January 1 - May 31
  • Spawning Season Closure GA & E. FL: January 1 - April 30
  • Regulatory Remarks:
    • Annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure January 1 through April 30, with the exception of red grouper in federal waters off the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, which remain closed until June 1.
    • Shallow-Water Grouper: black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper.
    • 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.
    • 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. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.

Additional Update: A Fishery Performance Report is available for this species - Click Here!