Snapper-Grouper Fishing Regulations

Annual Catch Limits and Seasonal Closures

For snapper-grouper species, annual catch limits are strictly enforced to maintain sustainable populations. The fishing seasons for these species are subject to closure once these limits are reached. For the most current information on catch limits and season statuses, it's advisable to check the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Regional Office's website at NMFS SERO.

Regulatory Authorities

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) oversees the management of these species in federal waters. Given that regulations are subject to change, staying informed through direct contact with the SAFMC (phone: 843-571-4366) or by visiting their website at SAFMC is crucial. Additionally, the Fish Rules app, available for both Android and Apple devices, provides an easily accessible source for up-to-date regulations.

Fishing Gear Requirements

Fishermen, whether engaged in recreational, for-hire, or commercial fishing, must equip themselves with specific tools:

  • Dehooking tools are mandatory for safely removing hooks from snapper-grouper species.
  • A descending device, ready for use, is required on board to help reduce barotrauma in these fish.
  • The use of non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks is mandated when using natural baits to target snapper-grouper species.

Sale and Permit Requirements

Selling snapper-grouper under the recreational bag limit is prohibited. For-hire vessels aiming to fish for these species in federal waters must possess a valid Snapper-Grouper permit.

Special Management Zones (SMZs)

Both commercial and recreational fishers are limited to the recreational bag limit for snapper-grouper species within SMZs. Detailed information on these zones can be found in the General Information section under "Special Information."

Sea Turtle Release Gear

For-hire vessels with a federal permit targeting snapper-grouper species must carry NMFS-approved sea turtle release gear and adhere to specific release protocols. More details are available by calling 727-824-5312 or visiting the NMFS SERO website.

Species-Specific Regulations

Regulations for individual species within the snapper-grouper complex include closed seasons, bag limits, and size restrictions. These are designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of stocks. Notable regulations include:

  • Greater Amberjack and Hogfish have specific bag and size limits, with additional restrictions for for-hire vessels in April.
  • Wreckfish, Black Sea Bass, and various Porgies and Snappers have their own set of rules regarding open seasons, bag limits, and size requirements.
  • Grouper and Tilefish species face closed seasons and are included in a grouper aggregate daily bag limit, with specific size restrictions.
  • Special regulations apply to the harvest of species like Snowy Grouper, with a strict vessel limit during certain months, and Nassau & Goliath Grouper, which are entirely prohibited from being kept.

Aggregate Limits

For other species in the snapper-grouper complex, an aggregate limit applies, with a cap on the number of any one species. This includes a variety of species from Lesser Amberjack to Sailors Choice, ensuring a diverse catch while preventing overfishing of any single species.

State Waters Regulations

In state waters, additional rules may apply, such as specific size limits for Gray Triggerfish and Spadefish, along with a per-boat limit for Spadefish. These regulations are designed to complement federal rules and ensure the sustainability of fish populations across both state and federal waters.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.