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Angler Data Needed to Avert Closure of Mid-Atlantic Snapper/Grouper Fishery

July 7, 2009

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Marine Fisheries Administration is reaching out to deepwater snapper/grouper species fishermen to collect catch statistics. Catch data are needed to document your participation in this Mid-Atlantic deepwater fishery, which may be in jeopardy.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is currently developing Amendment 18 to the Snapper/Grouper Fishery Management Plan. This amendment will provide additional protection to a number of species experiencing over-fishing in the South Atlantic region. One of the preferred SAFMC management alternatives requires a prohibition on all fishing for, possession, and retention of all deepwater snapper/grouper species seaward of 40 fathoms. The SAFMC is currently proposing extending the boundaries northward for this management alternative to include Mid-Atlantic offshore waters.

The snapper/grouper complex includes 73 separate finfish species, most of which occur primarily in the South Atlantic region. However, a few species, such as groupers and blueline tilefish, may be seasonally abundant enough to support a recreational fishery in Mid-Atlantic offshore waters. The State of Virginia has documented a recently evolving recreational fishery on many of the species in the snapper/grouper complex, as well as commercial landings for a few of these species. Most of the effort in the Mid-Atlantic region for deepwater snapper/grouper species occurs in the Norfolk Canyon, with landings occurring primarily in Virginia and to a lesser extent in Maryland. This recently discovered Mid-Atlantic fishery for previously unexploited deepwater snapper/grouper species has yielded 22 all-tackle IGFA world records for Virginia anglers in the past three years.

The SAFMC management alternative to extend a fishing prohibition to Mid-Atlantic offshore waters has the potential to close an evolving fishery on species that may not be experiencing overfishing in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) is asking the SAFMC to recognize that Mid-Atlantic region exploitation levels on these species may differ significantly from levels in the South Atlantic region. The MAFMC is proposing the Mid-Atlantic region be considered a separate snapper/grouper species management unit under MAFMC management authority.

The MAFMC needs data to support its position on management of snapper/grouper species in the Mid-Atlantic region. The necessary data include Mid-Atlantic fishermen catch statistics for any of the snapper/grouper species listed below. Anglers who catch any of these species are urged to contact Peter Himchak with the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Marine Fisheries Administration at 609-748-2020 or

Mid-Atlantic angler catch statistics are needed for the following Snapper/Grouper Complex Species:

Snappers - Lutjanidae
Black snapper Apsilus dentatus
Queen snapper Etelis oculatus
Mutton snapper Lutjanus analis
Schoolmaster Lutjanus apodus
Blackfin snapper Lutjanus buccanella
Red snapper Lutjanus campechanus
Cubera snapper Lutjanus cyanopterus
Gray snapper Lutjanus griseus
Mahogany snapper Lutjanus mahogoni
Dog snapper Lutjanus jocu
Lane snapper Lutjanus synagris
Silk snapper Lutjanus vivanus
Yellowtail snapper Ocyurus chrysurus
Vermillion snapper Rhomboplites aurorubens

Sea Basses - Serranidae
Bank sea bass Centropristis ocyurus
Rock sea bass Centropristis philadelphica

Groupers - Serranidae
Rock hind Epinephelus adscensionis
Graysby Epinephelus cruentatus
Speckled hind Epinephelus drummondhayi
Yellowedge grouper Epinephelus flavolimbatus
Coney Epinephelus fulva
Red hind Epinephelus guttatus
Jewfish/Goliath Epinephelus itajara
Red grouper Epinephelus morio
Misty grouper Epinephelus mystacinus
Warsaw grouper Epinephelus nigritus
Snowy grouper Epinephelus niveatus
Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus
Black grouper Mycteroperca bonaci
Yellowmouth grouper Mycteroperca interstitialis
Gag Mycteroperca microlepis
Scamp Mycteroperca phenax
Tiger grouper Mycteroperca tigris
Yellowfin grouper Mycteroperca venenosa

Porgies - Sparidae
Sheepshead Archosargus probatocephalus
Grass porgy Calamus arctifrons
Jolthead porgy Calamus bajonado
Saucereye porgy Calamus calamus
Whitebone porgy Calamus leucosteus
Knobbed porgy Calamus nodosus
Red porgy Pagrus pagrus
Longspine porgy Stenotomus caprinus

Grunts - Pomadasyidae
Black margate Anisotremus surinamensis
Porkfish Anisotremus virginicus
Margate Haemulon album
Tomtate Haemulon aurolineatum
Smallmouth grunt Haemulon chyrsargyreum
French grunt Haemulon flavolineatum
Spanish grunt Haemulon macrostomum
Cottonwick Haemulon melanurum
Sailor's choice Haemulon parrai
White grunt Haemulon plumieri
Bluestriped grunt Haemulon sciurus

Tilefishes - Malacanthidae
Blueline tilefish Caulolatilus microps
Tilefish (Golden) Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps
Sand tilefish Malacanthus plumieri

Triggerfishes - Balistidae
Gray triggerfish Balistes capriscus
Queen triggerfish Balistes vetula
Ocean triggerfish Canthidermis sufflamen

Wrasses - Labridae
Hogfish Lachnolaimus maximus
Puddingwife Halichoeres radiatus

Jacks - Carangidae
Yellow jack Caranx bartholomaei
Blue runner Caranx crysos
Crevalle jack Caranx hippos
Bar jack Caranx ruber
Greater amberjack Seriola dumerilli
Almaco jack Seriola rivoliana
Banded rudderfish Seriola zonata
Lesser amberjack Seriola fasciata

Wreckfish - Polyprionidae
Wreckfish Polyprion americanus

Spadefishes - Eppiphidae
Atlantic spadefish Chaetodipterus faber

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Last Updated: July 7, 2009