Wreckfish Regulations

Wreckfish

Wreckfish

Polyprion americanus

Managed by:

SAFMC

Fish Rules
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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 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.


Recreational Regulations

Recreational Season: 

The following regulations apply to Wreckfish in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida.

  • Open Season: July 1 - August 31
    • Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the recreational Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met. If an in-season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here.

 

  • The fishery is closed September 1 - June 30.

 

Recreational Bag and Size Limits

 

  • Bag Limit: 1 fish per VESSEL per day

 

  • Minimum Size Limit: None
  •  

Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers.

 

Dehooking Tool Requirement:

  • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • At least one dehooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper-grouper with minimum damage.
    • The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process.
    • The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.

 

Descending Device Requirement:

  • Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species;

 

  • Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
    • The descending device attaches to the fish’s mouth or is a container that will hold the fish.  The device MUST be capable of releasing the fish automatically, by the actions of the operator of the device, or by allowing the fish to escape on its own.
    • Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

 

Hook Requirements:

All hooks, regardless of type, must be constructed of non-stainless steel. 

North of 28º North Latitude:

  • The use of Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when
    fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude.  
  • A circle hook is defined as a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the point is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a generally circular, or oval, shape.

 

South of 28º North Latitude:

  • The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.  

 

Click here for helpful resources, including:

  • best fishing practices tips
  • information on hook types
  • how-to videos

NOTE: All other recreational gear requirements apply (see other tabs for details).

 

Permit Requirements

A Federal For-Hire Permit is Required

  • Click Here to Learn More
  • When harvest of this species closes in federal waters, vessels with a federal charter/for-hire permit cannot retain this species in state or federal waters.
  • Beginning January 4, 2021, all vessels with a federal charter/headboat permit for Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper will be required to electronically report their catch. Learn more.

 

Sea Turtle Release Gear Requirements

  • All species must be landed with head and fins intact
  • Recreational Bag Limit sales are prohibited 

 

Fish Rules Mobile App

Mobile App - Fish Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see some "Frequently Asked Questions."

DOWNLOAD for Android
DOWNLOAD for Apple 

 

Recreational Regulations Summary

Click the image for a summary of regulations for some snapper grouper species

 

Current Fishery Closures

Click the image for a summary of current fishery closures

Commercial Regulations

Commercial Permit:

  • Commercial Wreckfish harvest is permitted under an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system. Only ITQ shareholders or their designees may commercially harvest wreckfish.
  • A limited access Snapper Grouper permit is required for this species
  • As per the requirements of the permit, commercial fishermen are required to report their catch. 

Commercial Season: 

The following regulations apply to Wreckfish in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida.

Note: Commercial Wreckfish harvest is permitted under an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system. Only ITQ shareholders or their designees may commercially harvest wreckfish.

  • Open Season: April 16 - January 14

 

  • The commercial fishery is closed for an Annual Spawning Season Closure January 15 - April 15
  •  

Commercial Trip and Size Limits

The following regulations apply to Wreckfish in federal waters (3-200 nautical miles) off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida.

  • Trip Limit:​ Commercial Wreckfish harvest is permitted under an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system. Only ITQ shareholders or their designees may commercially harvest wreckfish.

 

  • Minimum Size Limit: None

Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers. 

 

Dehooking Tool Requirement:

  • Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use dehooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species.
    • At least one dehooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper-grouper with minimum damage.
    • The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process.
    • The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery.

 

Descending Device Requirement:

  • Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species;

 

  • Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
    • The descending device attaches to the fish’s mouth or is a container that will hold the fish.  The device MUST be capable of releasing the fish automatically, by the actions of the operator of the device, or by allowing the fish to escape on its own.
    • Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

 

Hook Requirements:

All hooks, regardless of type, must be constructed of non-stainless steel. 

North of 28º North Latitude: 

  • The use of Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude.
  • A circle hook is defined as a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the point is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a generally circular, or oval, shape.  

 

South of 28º North Latitude:

  • The use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude.  

 

Click here for helpful resources, including:

  • best fishing practices tips
  • information on hook types
  • how-to videos

 

Sea Turtle Release Gear Requirements

Annual Catch Limit

This species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit (ACL).

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. 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. 

Click here for details 

  • All species must be landed with head and fins intact

Fish Rules Mobile App

Mobile App - Fish Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see some "Frequently Asked Questions."

DOWNLOAD for Android
DOWNLOAD for Apple 

 

Commercial Regulations Summary

Click the image for a summary of regulations for some snapper grouper species

 

Current Fishery Closures

Click the image for a summary of current fishery closures