Profile updated on 27 March 2018

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Epinephelus morio

SPECIES NAME(s)

Red grouper

COMMON NAMES

Mero

Genetic analyses have shown low genetic variation across red grouper’s US and Mexican distribution suggesting the existence of a single stock, but not ruling out the possibility of several reproductively distinct stocks, supported by distribution discontinuity and life-history traits (Richardson and Gold 1997) (Zatcoff et al. 2004). Until further studies become available, we are using the former structure.

A 2017 study proposes adoption of the concept of a noxicline, or subarea unit, for which EBFM targets and limits can be set, which could be more appropriate for this species in this area (Arreguín-Sánchez et al. 2017). This is not currently being used.

Mexican and US stocks are minimally connected (SEDAR and Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) 2015).


ANALYSIS

No related analysis

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

4.0 to 7.3

Managers Compliance:

< 6 to 10

Fishers Compliance:

< 6 to 10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

2.3 to 10

Future Health:

< 6 to 9.9


FIPS

  • Mexico Yucatan red and black grouper - longline:

    Stage 5, Progress Rating A

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Northern Gulf of Mexico US Gulf of Mexico United States Bottom-set longlines
Vertical Lines
NW Atlantic US NW Atlantic United States Hooks and lines
Southern Gulf of Mexico Mexico Gulf of Mexico Mexico Bottom-set longlines
Handlines hand operated
Hooks and lines
Mechanized lines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 16 October 2018

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Improve and increase discard data collection. 
  • Increase number and frequency of stock assessments on incidentally harvested species (species that are retained but are not the primary targets of this fishery).

Last updated on 16 October 2018

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Develop a system to report catch by species.
  • Work with scientists to develop a formal stock assessment for red grouper.
  • Ask INAPESCA to update the National Fisheries Chart (Carta Nacional Pesquera) with specific advice for sustainable management of red grouper, including reference points, catch limits, a harvest control rule, and effort limitation.
  • Work with managers to implement the regulations specified in the 2014 multi-species grouper fishery management plan and in accordance with advice from INAPESCA. 
  • Ask managers to implement an observer program with adequate coverage to collect informative data on bycatch and fishery interactions with endangered, threatened and protected species.
  • Press the government to enhance enforcement and control measures to ensure compliance with fishery regulations, particularly those related to seasonal and spatial closures, minimum legal sizes, and fishing effort.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 27 March 2018

The most recent benchmark stock assessment for red grouper in the Northern Gulf of Mexico was conducted through the Southeast Data, Assessment, Review (SEDAR) process with data through 2013 (SEDAR 2015). The data and assessment team consisted primarily of federal agency staff with additional representation from state agencies, universities, environmental groups, and scientific and advisory bodies of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The review panel consisted of members from the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) and the GMFMC Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). The preferred model was developed using Stock Synthesis 3 (SS3), an integrated statistical catch at age model used widely in the US and internationally. Input data included commercial and recreational harvest and discards plus a “fleet” to account for red tide mortality, four fishery-dependent and three fishery-independent indices of abundance, sector specific age and length composition data, and other biological information. Fishery and index selectivity was modeled for each fleet and index separately. Uncertainty in model results was investigated using a range of sensitivity runs to evaluate assumptions regarding data inputs and model configuration, plus a retrospective analysis.  Projections across a range of fishing mortality rates investigated harvest and stock status over a 17 year time horizon (SEDAR 2015)

Last updated on 27 March 2018

A benchmark stock assessment for red grouper in the US South Atlantic region was peer reviewed through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process with data through 2008 (SEDAR 2010). Members of the data and assessment teams included state and federal agency personnel and representatives from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Science and Statistical Committees (SSC). The peer review panel consisted of members from the Center for Independent Experts (CIE), plus federal agency and Council representatives. The preferred model was the Beaufort Assessment model, a statistical catch at age model used commonly on the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts for a wide range of species, such as menhaden, black sea bass, and several grouper species. Input data included annual removals (harvest and discards) from four fishery sectors (2 commercial, 2 recreational), sector specific length at age data, and three fishery dependent and two fishery independent indices of abundance. Uncertainty in model results was investigated using a range of sensitivity runs to evaluate assumptions regarding data inputs and model configuration, as well as a retrospective analysis.  Projections across a range of fishing mortality rates investigated harvest and stock status using both SSB methods.  In 2017 the model was updated with data through 2016 using a “standard” assessment, which is based on the benchmark accepted base run, but allows minor modifications to the data and model configuration (SEDAR 2017).

Last updated on 28 February 2018

A formal stock assessment of this stock is not available; a Productivity Susceptibility Analysis found the stock to be highly vulnerable (Monterey Bay Aquarium SeaFoodWatch 2017).

Two other types of informal stock assessments have been undertaken to assess the status of this stock: a) Dynamic model of Production (Schaefer) that allows estimate the optimal level of fishing effort and the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) based on catch and effort data from 1984 to 2009 and b) Virtual Population Analysis (VPA) model that allows estimate the Fishing mortality index, number of individuals per age and year and the recruitment, that was based on data from 1980 to 2012 (Monroy et al. 2010).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 23 January 2018

Biological reference points were first established for Gulf of Mexico red grouper through the Generic Sustainable Fishery Management Act Amendment (GMFMC 1999), which recommended managing the stock based on spawning potential (SPR) as a proxy MSY-based reference points. A 2002 stock assessment determined the stock was overfished, resulting in a Secretarial Amendment that refined the biological reference points and implemented a 10-year rebuilding plan (GMFMC 2004). Annual catch limits and targets (ACL, ACT) were established for three years under the Secretarial Amendment, and have been re-evaluated regularly and adjusted appropriately (GMFMC 2008)(GMFMC 2011)(GMFMC 2016). GMFMC (2008) also established sector allocation of the ACL as 76% commercial and 24% recreational. A peer reviewed stock assessment in 2015 determined that red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Applying established harvest control rules to the biomass estimates from this assessment resulted in increases to allowable harvest levels that were considered excessive (GMFMC 2016). A more conservative ACL was set, with sector specific ACTs determined as 95% of the commercial ACL and 92% of the recreational ACL based on an accepted ACT/ACL buffer determination strategy (GMFMC 2016).

Reference Points

Last updated on 23 Jan 2018

Biological reference points based on spawning potential ratio (SPR) were established for Gulf of Mexico red grouper through the Generic Sustainable Fishery Management Act Amendment (GMFMC 1999), but were revised to MSY-based reference points through Secretarial Amendment 1 (GMFMC 2004). During the 2015 stock assessment, stock status was evaluated relative to the MSY-based reference points, but the peer review panel recommended reverting back to SPR-based reference points due to uncertainty in fitting the spawner-recruit relationship necessary to estimate MSY reference points (SEDAR 2015). Stock status in the 2015 assessment was therefore evaluated using a biomass target of 30% of maximum spawning potential (SSB30%SPR; measured in terms of fecundity), a minimum stock size threshold (MSST) of (1-M)*SSB30%SPR, and a corresponding fishing mortality threshold that achieves the biomass target at equilibrium (F30%SPR) (SEDAR 2015). The assessment reports these values as F30%SPR = 0.204, SSB30%SPR = 1,203,500 eggs, and MSST = 1,035,000 eggs (SEDAR 2015).

Last updated on 23 January 2018

Biological reference points were originally defined for species managed under the SAFMC snapper-grouper fishery management plan through the Comprehensive Sustainable Fisheries Management Act Amendment (SAFMC 1998), but were more recently updated for red grouper under Amendment 24 (SAFMC 2011). The 2010 stock assessment and SSC recommended managing the fishery based on MSY-based reference points (SEDAR 2010). The 2010 stock assessment determined that the stock was overfished and overfishing was occuring (SAFMC 2011) so Amendment 24 (SAFMC 2011) 

established a 10-year rebuilding period for the stock, and defined annual catch limits (ACL) and accountability measures to minimize the potential for overfishing in the future. A recent stock assessment update concluded the stock is still overfished, and stock projections conducted during the assessment indicate the stock will not recover during the originally established rebuilding deadline of 2020 (SEDAR 2017). The ACL for the stock is set equal to the harvest when fishing at 75% of FMSY, and is allocated among sectors as 44% commercial and 56% recreational (SAFMC 2011).

Reference Points

Last updated on 23 Jan 2018

SEDAR 2010 and the SAFMC SSC recommend using MSY-based reference points. Amendment 24 (SAFMC 2011) established a fishing mortality threshold as the fishing mortality rate that achieves maximum sustainable yield (FMSY). The biomass target is the spawning biomass that achieves maximum sustainable yield (SSBMSY), and the associated MSST is 0.75*SSBMSY. Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) is estimated as the combined male and female mature biomass (SEDAR 2017). The 2017 stock assessment reports these values as FMSY = 0.12, SSBMSY = 3183.4 t , and MSST = 2387.6 t.

Last updated on 28 February 2018

The National Fisheries Institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesca, INAPESCA) belongs to the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación, SAGARPA) and coordinates and conducts scientific and technological research on fisheries and aquaculture resources and provides the advice for CONAPESCA. Since 2000 INAPESCA creates the National Fisheries Chart (Carta Nacional Pesquera, CNP) which should be updated yearly and is developed under the Fisheries Law. The CNP constitutes a state of the art review of Mexican fisheries (by species or group of species) and defines guidelines, strategies and measures for conservation, protection and management of the fishing resources. No formal scientific advice for a catch limit is known to exist for the grouper fishery but only recommendations based on the status of the stock.

In accordance with the precautionary approach, the last CNP (SAGARPA 2012) recommended a reduction in Fishing mortality (F) of 20% over five years and in the fishing effort (to attain 1980s levels) as well as improvement on research about bycatch species with economic value – black grouper Mycteroperca bonaci, gag M. microlepis and yellowfin grouper M. venenosa -, special fishing licenses in the Yucatán peninsula. (SAGARPA-INAPESCA 2010) also defend the implementation of annual quotas.

Annual quotas and onboard observers are proposed by the scientific programme, initially to the industrial fleet (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016). These were first proposed in 2006.

Reference Points

Last updated on 28 Feb 2018

Biomass in 1958 is considered as virgin biomass level, B0, and was estimated at 248,548 tons. The target reference point for biomass Btrp, level attained in 1976, is set at 124,478 tons; the limit reference point Blim, reached in 1982, is estimated at 78,945 tons (SAGARPA-INAPESCA 2010). However, according with the last stock assessment (Monroy et al. 2010) and regarding the poor condition of the stock a new Blim was defined. Since 2012 Blim has been set at 52,000t, the average estimated biomass from 1995-2008 (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014). No reference points are defined for fishing mortality.

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 27 March 2018

Terminal year spawning biomass (measured in fecundity) was estimated as SSB2013 = 2.223 million eggs, relative to the biomass target of SSB30%SPR = 1.204 million eggs (SEDAR 2015). The estimated fishing mortality in the terminal year of the assessment of F2013 = 0.121 is approximately 59% of the fishing mortality threshold of F30%SPR = 0.204 (SEDAR 2015). Results of the benchmark assessment indicate terminal year SSB exceeds the SSB target, and fishing mortality is well below the threshold, suggesting the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Commercial landings increased in 2014, but declined to previous levels in 2015 and 2016, and have remained below the ACT in all years since the terminal year of the assessment (NMFS 2017).

Trends

Last updated on 27 Mar 2018

Spawning biomass (total fecundity) was relatively stable during the first decade of the stock assessment time series, fluctuating without trend between approximately 1.15 billion and 1.22 billion eggs from 1986 to 1997. Beginning in 1998, spawning biomass rose steadily to over 1.92 billion eggs by 2005. A red tide event occurred in 2005, causing significant mortality, which resulted in an abrupt decrease in spawning biomass back to pre-1998 levels. Since then total fecundity has increased rapidly, reaching a time series high of 2.25 billion eggs in 2012. Spawning biomass in the terminal year of the assessment was estimated at SSB2013 = 2.22 billion eggs.

Fishing mortality shows a generally inverse trend compared to spawning biomass. Harvest rates were generally stable around F = 0.2 during the early years of the assessment, but declined by approximately 50% from the early 1990s to early 2000s. The red tide event caused a spike in mortality (attributed to fishing) to over 0.47. Following the spike, mortality rates resumed their previous decline, reaching a time series low of F = 0.07 in 2010 before rising slightly in subsequent years. Terminal year fishing mortality is estimated as F2012 = 0.108.

Quota monitoring results for commercial red grouper are provided back to 2004 (NMFS 2017). From 2004 to 2010, landings generally declined from a high of 5.5 million pounds gutted weight (lb gw) (2,495.5 t) in 2004 to a low of 2.9 million lb gw (1,315.8 t) in 2010. In 2011, commercial landings increased to 4.8 million lb gw (2,177.9 t) and have fluctuated without trend between this value and 5.6 million lb gw (2,540.8 t) through 2016 (NMFS 2017)

Last updated on 27 March 2018

The 2017 stock assessment indicated that the stock remained overfished with overfishing still occurring. Current fishing mortality, calculated as the geometric mean of the most recent three years, was estimated at F2013-2015 = 0.187, which exceeds the overfishing limit (FMSY = 0.12) by 54%. Spawning biomass in the terminal year of the assessment was estimated at 911 t, which represents 38.1% and 28.6% of the MSST and SSB target, respectively. Commercial landings of red grouper in the SAFMC management area in 2015 were reported as 58.4 ton (SEDAR 2017). In 2016, commmercial harvesters reported only 23.7 ton of red grouper through the quota monitoring program (NMFS 2017).

Trends

Last updated on 27 Mar 2018

Spawning biomass of red grouper in the US South Atlantic exceeded 2,500 ton in the mid 1970s, but declined rapidly to a time series low of just 509 ton by 1988. Subsequently, spawning biomass rebounded gradually to over 1,400 ton by 2003, and then more quickly to a time series high of nearly 3,000 ton by 2007. Following this peak, spawning biomass fell sharply by more than 50% in just three years. From 2010 to 2015, biomass has continued to decline, but at a slower rate. Spawning biomass in 2015 was estimated at 911 ton (SEDAR 2017).

Fishing mortality rates were modest during the early years of the stock assessment, remaining below F = 0.35 from 1976 to 1982. By 1984, harvest rates had increased to a time series high of F = 0.80. Since that time, mortality has followed a generally declining trend over time, although with substantial interannual variability. Years of below average harvest mortality in 1991 and 2005 (F = 0.22 and 0.17, respectively) were followed shortly after by high mortality years in 1993 and 2009 (F = 0.59 in both years). Fishing mortality in the terminal year of the assessment was estimated at F = 0.181, with a three year geometric mean value of F2013-2015 = 0.187 (SEDAR 2017)

Commercial landings were reported at over 400 ton in the first year of the stock assessment (1976), but remained generally stable between 300 mt and 400 ton per year through the 1980s. Landings dropped sharply in the early 1990s, falling below 200 ton for the years 1992 to 1994, before returning to previous levels during 1995-2004. A sharp dip in landings to 215 ton in 2005 was followed by a spike to nearly 600 ton in 2007-2008. Landings have fallen considerably since this peak, dropping by more than 50% by 2010 and continuing to drop by approximately 25-33% per year since then. 

Last updated on 28 February 2018

The stock is considered to be “in deterioration” for years, based on the stock assessment results, reduction of the CPUE values in the commercial fleet and the lower abundance indices obtained in the joined surveys undertaken by Mexico-Cuba (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014). Biomass in 2012 (about 45,000 tons) was below the minimum biomass reference point (Blim). Current fishing effort, catches and biological surveys are not available.

Catches of target species of the multi-species fishery, including all fleets operating, are composed of 47% Black grouper Mycteroperca bonaci, 44.1% of Red grouper, 3.1% of Mutton snapper Lutjanus analis. In the artisanal sector, Red grouper is 56.7% of the catch but proportions depends on the fishing area and season (SAGARPA-INAPESCA 2010).

The 2014 IUCN Red List assessment considered this species to be Near Threatened, with landings of this high value species falling and value remaining high (Carpenter, K.E. et al. 2015).

Trends

Last updated on 28 Feb 2018

Biomass of red grouper has been decreasing progressively since 1958, with a reduction of 79.6% from 1958 to 2009. Is below Btrp from 1978 and Blim since 1983. The stock is considered to be overexploited since 1982 (Monroy et al. 2010).

Total catches have been oscillating in a decreasing trend, reaching around 17,000 tons in 1970-1975. The historical minimum was attained in 2004 at 5,300 tons. Last year’s shown an increase mainly due to artisanal sector and catches of industrial fleet have been fluctuating around 6,000 tons. Catches of the Cuban fleet have been decreasing to residual values in the last years (1% of total catches) (SAGARPA-INAPESCA 2010). Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) decreased 51%, with 2,837 Kg/fishing trip in 1984-1990 to 1,394 Kg/fishing trip in 1996-2008 (SAGARPA 2012).

Between 1980-2010, the fishery caught a great proportion of undersized fishes which caused a great pressing under the juveniles not allowing the reproduction of these individuals. This situation led to the overfishing of this species (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014). 2010 biomass estimates represented a decrease of 60% in comparison with 1980 estimates.

Landings figures and biomass estimates have not been updated since 2011, however a raft of management schemes have been introduced since then, offering some hope that the negatively-trending situation can be addressed. However, many of these schemes target the industrial fishery, and the extent to which they will address the effect of the artesanal fleet on the stock is unknown.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 27 March 2018

In the Gulf of Mexico, red grouper are managed through the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Management decisions for red grouper generally follow available scientific advice.  A 2002 stock assessment determined that red grouper was overfished and experiencing overfishing. In response, the GMFMC implemented a 10-year rebuilding plan in 2004 through Secretarial Amendment 1, which included commercial and recreational trip limits and a reduction in annual allowable catch (GMFMC 2004). A subsequent stock assessment in 2006 found that stock size had fully recovered above MSY levels by 2005 (SEDAR 2006), which prompted managers to increase ACLs for the species in Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008). Multi-year ACLs were specified for 2009-2011 in Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008), for 2012-2015 through a red grouper regulatory amendment (GMFMC 2011), and for 2016+ in a recent framework adjustment (GMFMC 2016). The recent adjustments are based on results of the 2015 benchmark stock assessment, and follow harvest control rules established through Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008). Both the ACL and ACT (3,715 ton and 3,530 ton, respectively) increased by approximately 36% in 2016 relative to 2015 values (NMFS 2017).

Commercial trip limits and season closures were phased out with the implementation of an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program in 2010 through Reef Fish Amendment 29 (GMFMC 2008). For the recreational sector, the aggregate shallow water grouper bag limit is four fish, with a possesion limit of 2 red grouper within this aggregate four fish bag limit (GMFMC 2014). A recreational closed season on shallow-water grouper is in effect from February 1 through March 31 for fishing beyond the 20 fathom break. Recreational harvest of red grouper is permitted all year inside 20 fathoms.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 27 Mar 2018

A stock assessment update in 2002 indicated the Gulf of Mexico red grouper stock was overfished and experiencing overfishing (GMFMC 2004). In response to these findings, a 10-year rebuilding plan was implemented in 2004 to rebuild the stock to target biomass levels by the end of the rebuilding period. Stock status had improved since the previous benchmark stock assessment, but additional rebuilding was necessary to achieve the target biomass. Two rebuilding strategies were considered that maintained constant F or constant harvest throughout the rebuilding period (GMFMC 2004). The GMFMC approved a compromise strategy that maintained a constant harvest for three years at a harvest level equal to the three year average harvest under a constant F strategy. The preferred alternative required catch levels after the initial three years to be established based on results of subsequent stock assessments (GMFMC 2004). A 2006 benchmark stock assessment, with data through 2005, concluded that the stock was fully recovered (SEDAR 2006). The most recent stock assessment conducted with data through 2013 indicated that the stock is not overfished, so rebuilding is currently not necessary (SEDAR 2015).

Last updated on 28 January 2018

Red grouper in the US South Atlantic is managed through the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Management decisions for red grouper generally follow available scientific advice, but could be more conservative. A 2010 stock assessment determined that red grouper were overfished and experiencing overfishing (SEDAR 2010). The SAFMC responded by passing Amendment 24, which redefined biological reference points for the species, established a 10-year rebuilding plan, and separated red grouper from the shallow water grouper complex in order to have its own specific ACL (SAFMC 2011). ACLs for 2012-2014 were set equal to the yield that would occur when fishing at 75% of the FMSY. These catch limits are therefore equal to the harvest at optimum yield (OY = ABC = ACL). The 2014 ACL has been maintained each year through 2017. There are no catch targets defined for red grouper (SAFMC 2011).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 28 Jan 2018

A ten year recovery plan was initiated through Amendment 24 (SAFMC 2011) to extend through 2020. Annual catch limits were set equal to the yield expected when fishing at 75% of FMSY for 2012 to 2014, with the 2014 ACL recurring in subsequent years unless modified. This rebuilding plan was estimated to have a 70% chance of rebuilding success by 2020 (SAFMC 2011)

Last updated on 28 February 2018

The National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Comissión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca, CONAPESCA) belongs to SAGARPA and is the regulatory agency, in charge of management, coordination and policy development of marine resources. The fishery is not regulated by catch limits for the Mexican fleet (artisanal and industrial fleets). DOF 2012 recommends reducing fleet size to levels which will restock the fish to 1980's levels and has set effort level limits to 28,800 total fishing days across the 320-vessel fleet, as well as mandating a 20% drop in F levels in 5 years, i.e. by 2017 (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016).

From 2003 to 2005, a seasonal fishing closure was set because of the poor status of red grouper stock (below the limit and target biological reference points) and to protect the reproduction period and area in the Yucatán peninsula (including Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo Mexican water states). In 2006 and 2007, after a biomass recovery and increase of the juvenile fraction of the population, the closure was maintained from 15 February – 15 March, prohibiting the use of bottom hooks and lines in a defined area. This continues today (2017) (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016). Fishing is also not allowed in specific areas defined for protected species (SAGARPA 2012)(SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016).

In 2007, the Mexican Official Standard NOM-065-PESC-2007 set several management measures for the grouper fishery particularly for the artisanal sector of the fleet: gillnets and spearfishing (fisgas) are not allowed; minimum landing size at 30,9cm from 2007 to May 2010 and at 36,3cm since 2010 (SAGARPA 2012) (Diario Oficial de la Federación, DOF) (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016). Gear limits regarding the number of hooks and lines and mandating the installation of VMS were also introduced (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014).

A management plan for the red grouper fishery and associated species in the Yucatán peninsula was published in November 2014 and will be implemented in 2015 (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014). The development and publication of this Management Plan was undertaken by INAPESCA while the implementation will be done by CONAPESCA, according with the laws and regulations in place. The main goals are: increase the closed season to protect the biomass of the red group and associated species, increase the minimum landing size to protect the juveniles, definition of closed areas to the fishery and reduce the fishing mortality level. This stock and associated species are expected to recovery by 2022. The management plan will be revised after 3 years of implementation (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014).

The FIP is delivering results already with increased size of area closures and better data collection (CeDePesca 2017)​.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 28 Feb 2018

A management plan for the red grouper fishery and associated fisheries in the Yucatán peninsula is in place since November 2014 (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014)(SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016). This stock and associated species are expected to recovery by 2022 (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014) however the success of these plans will depend on how strictly they are enforced, and whether they are regularly updated to adapt to the changing situation.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 28 January 2018

Harvester compliance with annual harvest limits has been excellent. Observed harvest relative to established catch limits and targets is available on the NMFS Historical Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Commercial Landings website for 2004 to 2016 (NMFS 2017).  Actual harvest has exceeded the ACT only once in this time period (2004), and only twice was the season closed prior to the end of the year (2004 and 2005). For the years 2006 to 2016, actual harvest has ranged from 50.6% to 99.5% of the ACT, with an average annual harvest equal to 79.73% of the annual target (NMFS 2017).

Last updated on 28 January 2018

No species specific information is available prior to 2012 while red grouper were included in the SAFMC shallow water grouper complex that had a composite catch limit (NMFS 2017). Harvester compliance with established catch limits has been excellent since approval of Amendment 24 which removed red grouper from the species complex. In 2012, harvesters landed approximately 55% of the annual limit, but reported harvest has not exceeded 40% of a given ACL in any year since then (NMFS 2017)

Last updated on 28 February 2018

Traditionally, three fleets have been active; Mexican industrial (about 515 vessels) and artisanal vessels (about 1,850 vessels) and a small fishery specific Cuban industrial fleet. However, the last one seems to be no longer active (Scott 2014). The artisanal fishery represents about 55% of the total catch (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014) and they are known to catch immature fish (40% below MLS, most are immature) (Coronado and Salas 2011), a serious concern for management efforts.

Illegal fishing is detected in Natural Park Arrecife Alacranes as well as in National Park Arrecifes de Cozumel. Control measures are considered insufficient and inefficient and also in Reserve of Biosphere Arrecifes de Sian Ka’an. Goals and actions for fisheries comprised in the management plan of National Park Arrecifes de Cozumel have not yet been accomplished (SAGARPA 2012).

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is installed on the industrial vessels since 2010. However, for example in Yucatan, the number of inspectors is very small (only 8 inspectors) to enforce regulations in ~4,200 artesanal vessels (Scott 2014). Nonetheless, frequency of enforcement events has steadily increased in line with increasingly numerous inspections (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 28 January 2018

Little information is available regarding interactions with marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery (handlines and longlines), but interactions with these species are considered to be low. No interactions were reported through the Coastal Fishery Logbook program (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016) or the 2010-2011 observer program (Scott-Denton et al. 2011), but the 2017 List of Fisheries (NMFS 2017) indicates that snapper-grouper fisheries (hook and line and bottom longline) in the South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean collectively interact with greater than 5,000 bottlenose dolphin, but still receives a Tier III rating by NMFS for interactions with marine mammals, indicating little potential harm to the population. Regardless, improved monitoring of interactions between the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery and protected species (protected, endangered, threatened) would be beneficial.

US Gulf of Mexico
United States
Bottom-set longlines

Last updated on 27 March 2018

A biological opinion (BiOp) developed for the reef fish fishery under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act anticipated 116 sea turtle interactions by the bottom longline fishery over three years (GMFMC 2010), but a number of reports released in 2008-2009 using observer and other monitoring data estimated actual interactions greatly exceeded the allowable levels. For example, a report released in 2009 estimated there were 967 sea turtle interactions in the longline fishery over a 30-month period (GMFMC 2010). In response, the GMFMC adopted Amendment 31, which established a seasonal closed area (inshore of 35 fathoms from June to August) to reduce the number of sea turtle interactions in this fishery (GMFMC 2010). No formal estimate of interactions could be found, but data from the coastal fishery logbook program suggest that the measures are working. More than 25 interactions were reported through the logbook program in 2010 and 2011 (NMFS 2013), and this number declined to only 12 in 2012 and 2013 (NMFS 2016).

Vertical Lines

Last updated on 28 January 2018

A biological opinion (BiOp) developed under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act identified a number of marine mammal and sea turtle species that may be encountered in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery. The BiOp determined there was no impact to marine mammals (GMFMC 2010), and developed a list of anticipated take over a three year period for the fishery, by gear (e.g. see Table 1.1.1 from GMFMC 2010). In 2008, a report was published using available observer and other monitoring data that found sea turtle interactions in the hand line fishery were in line with the anticipated take, and was not excessive (GMFMC 2010). The BiOp allows 98 sea turtle takes over a three year period (GMFMC 2010). Scott-Denton and Williams (2013) reported zero turtle interactions on 54 observed trips during 2010-2011. Harvesters reported an average of 26.5 interactions with sea turtles per year during 2006-2008, and 81 interactions in 2012, based on data in the coastal fishery logbook program (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016). No turtles were reported in the logbook data from this fishery in any other year between 2006 and 2013 (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016). NMFS has not issued any statement that this level of take is unacceptable. 

Last updated on 28 January 2018

Little information is available regarding interactions with protected species, such as sea turtles and marine mammals, in this fishery, but interactions with these species are considered to be low. A pilot observer program for the South Atlantic handline fishery collected information on sea turtle interactions, but the data were not reported in the final report (GSAFF 2008). Harvesters reported 56 interactions with sea turtles in 2007 and 215 in 2012 (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016). No turtles were reported from this fishery in any other year between 2006 and 2013 (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016), but it is unclear if this indicates there were no interactions, or harvesters did not report their interactions. No information is available for marine mammal interactions for this fishery specifically (no interactions reported in the Coastal Fishery Logbook program) (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016)(NMFS 2017), but the 2017 List of Fisheries (NMFS 2017) indicates that snapper-grouper fisheries (hook and line and bottom longline) in the South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean collectively interact with greater than 5,000 bottlenose dolphin, but still receives a Tier III rating from NMFS, indicating little potential harm to the population. Further, Amendment 15B implemented requirements for hadling and release of smalltooth sawfish and sea turtles from the snapper-grouper hook and line fishery (SAFMC 2008). Regardless, improved monitoring of interactions between the US South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery and protected species (protected, endangered, threatened) would be beneficial.

Last updated on 27 March 2018

Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricate (Critically endangered; (Mortimer and Donnelly 2008)) and loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta are the main marine species within Biosphere Reserve “Ría Celestún” that can interact with the fishery. Green turtle Chelonia mydas (Endangered; (Seminoff 2004)), leatherback Dermochelys coriacea (Vulnerable) and hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata (Critically endangered; (Mortimer and Donnelly 2008)) nest in all islands of the Marine National Park Arrecife Alacranes. Reports of interactions with the fishery are lacking but spatial overlap with the longline fishery would be expected to result in bycatch.

Common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus (Least concern) is also distributed in Gulf of Mexico and there is no data for Tamaulipas. There are recorded interactions (death and permanent injuries) with fishing vessels operating, in general (SAGARPA 2012), but no reports of bycatch (or any mention at all) in recent reports (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016).

Specific studies about the interaction of the fishery with Protected, Endangered and Threatened (PET) species are required (SAGARPA 2012).

Tropical coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea and within the fishing area are considered to be subject to a “low level” and “high level” of threat (DOF 2010). Some of the coral species identified are in IUCN Red list: staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis (Critically Endangered), fragile saucer coral Agaricia fragilis (Data deficient); lettuce coral A. agaricites, grooved brain coral Diploria labyrinthiformis, symmetrical brain coral D. strigosa, smooth flower coral Eusmilia fastigiata, spiny flower coral Mussa angulosa, mustard hill coral Porites astreoides, finger coral P. porites, lesser starlet coral Siderastrea radians (all Least concern) and Millepora alcicornis (Least concern). 

Strong sanctions for damaging coral and killing turtles are in place (Scott 2014).

The artesanal fleet mainly focuses on Lutjanus synagris and Ocyurus chrysurus; only 6% total catch is recorded as "other", which  includes four ETP species (Lutjanus campechanus, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps, Lachnolaimus maximus, Rhomboplites aurorubens) (IUCN 2017). Shark and ray species are reported in the catch but only Sphyrna lewini is considered ETP (Monroy et al. 2010) (Coronado and Salas 2011), constituting <1% catch volumes. Fishing mortality on ETP species is low and cumulative impacts are anticipatd to be low also, though data are lacking. Closed areas/MPAs and closed seasons protect ETP species as well as target species.

Other Species

Last updated on 28 January 2018

The multispecies reef fish FMP covers a total of 31 species, including 11 snapper species, 11 groupers, three tilefishes, four jacks, one triggerfish, and one wrasse (GMFMC 2015). The gears used in the fishery (handline and longline) are non-selective, resulting in a wide range of species in the catch.  An observer program in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery was implemented in 2006 as a requirement of Amendment 22 to the GMFMC reef fish FMP (GMFMC 2004)(Scott-Denton et al. 2011). Several reports have been published summarizing the data collected from this program, such as catch composition, disposition, and condition (Scott-Denton and Williams 2013)(Scott-Denton et al. 2011), and updated data on catch composition for the years 2012 to 2016 were obtained (E. Scott-Denton, NMFS, pers comm). Findings from these reports are reported below.

US Gulf of Mexico
United States
Bottom-set longlines

Last updated on 28 January 2018

In the reef fish longline fishery, species covered under the reef fish FMP accounted for approximately 87.3% of the total catch (62.2% was red grouper) based on the recently obtained data (E Scott-Denton, NMFS, pers. comm.). The remaining 13.7% was composed of 171 species, although 27 of these species were seen only once in the five years of sampling, and an additional 44 species were only seen 2 to 5 times in those years (E. Scott-Denton, NMFS, pers. comm.). Cuban dogfish and Atlantic sharpnose shark had the highest proportion of the total catch (1.6% each) for species not included in the FMP (E. Scott-Denton, NMFS, pers. comm.). Data from 2012-2016 provided for this report do not break down catch by disposition, but data from a previous report indicate that target species make up between 93.0% of retained catch and 83.1% of discarded catch (red grouper accounted for 62.82% and 70.97%, respectively) (Scott-Denton and Williams 2013). Landings data from the SEFSC Trip Interview Program (TIP) (L. Beerkircher, NMFS, pers. comm.) and discard data from the SEFSC Coastal Fishery Logbook program (NMFS 2016) corroborate that species in the reef fish FMP constitute the vast majority (>85%) of the harvest and discards in the longline fishery.

Vertical Lines

Last updated on 28 January 2018

In the reef fish handline fishery, species covered under the reef fish FMP accounted for approximately 92.5% of the total catch (15.6% was red grouper) based on the recently obtained data (E. Scott-Denton, NMFS, pers. comm.). The remaining 7.5% was composed of 218 species, although 51 of these species were seen only once in the five years of sampling, and an additional 54 species were only seen 2 to 5 times in those years. White grunt had the highest proportion of the total catch (1.1%) for species not included in the FMP (E. Scott-Denton, NMFS, pers. comm.). Data from 2012-2016 provided for this report do not break down catch by disposition, but data from a previous report indicate that target species make up between 81.7% of retained catch and 90.1% of discarded catch (red grouper accounted for 17.08% and 47.20%, respectively) (Scott-Denton and Williams 2013). Landings data from the SEFSC Trip Interview Program (TIP) (L. Beerkircher, NMFS, pers. comm.) and discard data from the SEFSC Coastal Fishery Logbook program (NMFS 2016) corroborate that species in the reef fish FMP constitute the vast majority (>85%) of the harvest and discards in the hand line fishery. 

Last updated on 28 January 2018

The SAFMC snapper-grouper FMP is a multispecies FMP covering a total of 55 species, including twenty grouper species, ten snappers, seven porgies, five grunts, five jacks, three tilefishes, wreckfish, hogfish, Atlantic spadefish, and two species of triggerfish (SAFMC 2017). The gears used in the fishery (handline and longline) are non-selective, resulting in a wide range of species in the catch.  A pilot observer program in for the vertical line fishery was in place from 2007-2009 (GSAFF 2008)(GSAFF 2010). In addition, species composition of harvest in both fisheries is collected through portside sampling (L. Beerkircher, NMFS pers. comm), and bycatch data are collected in both fisheries from a subset of commercial harvesters through the Coastal Fishery Logbook program (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016). Findings from these data sources are reported below.

Data from all years of the pilot program showed that species included in the snapper-grouper FMP accounted for approximately 93.6% of the total catch (kept plus discards) in numbers (GSAFF 2008)(GSAFF 2010). The remaining catch was composed of 61 non-target species, with the most common non-target species (Atlantic sharpnose shark) accounting for only 2.2% of the total catch. The proportion of total catch that was discarded varied by season and area (GSAFF 2008), but overall accounted for approximately 23% of the total catch numerically. Species managed under the snapper-grouper FMP made up over 97% of the retained catch and approximately 80% of the discarded catch (GSAFF 2008)(GSAFF 2010). Landings data from the SEFSC Trip Interview Program (TIP) (L. Beerkircher, NMFS, pers. comm.) and discard data from the SEFSC Coastal Fishery Logbook program (NMFS 2013)(NMFS 2016) corroborate that snapper-grouper species constitute the vast majority of the harvest and discards in the hand line fishery.

To address potential concerns with bycatch levels, the SAFMC adopted Amendment 15B which developed a plan to monitor and assess bycatch in the snapper-grouper fisheries (SAFMC 2008). The plan utilizes the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) Release, Discard, and Protected Species module, which includes several quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to monitor bycatch (ACCSP 2012). However, this program has not received sufficient funding for comprehensive implementation. In the meantime, the SAFMC will use a variety of methods to collect bycatch information, such as logbooks, observers, and video monitoring (SAFMC 2008). For example, the SEFSC Coastal Fisheries Logbook program collects discard information from select fishermen within the US South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery (NMFS SEFSC 2017).

Last updated on 28 February 2018

Red grouper is the main species of the multispecies fishery. Black grouper, gag and yellowfin grouper comprise the second most important group and then other species such as yellowedge grouper Epinephelus flavolimbatus, speckled hind E. drummondhayi, nassau grouper E. striatus, warsaw grouper E. nigritus are also captured, among others. Bycatch species are jolthead porgy Calamus bajonado, graysby Cephalopholis cruentata, white grunt Haemulon plumieri, mutton snapper Lutjanus analis (SAGARPA 2012) and are in different proportions depending on the fishing area (SAGARPA-INAPESCA 2014). In general, there are about 19 species of serranids associated with this fishery (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014). In the industrial component, red grouper represents 60% of the catch but this proportion seems to be much lower in the artisanal component of the fishery. However, in the artisanal fishery every fish is landed and discards are negligible (Scott 2014).

Mexico Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
Bottom-set longlines

Last updated on 27 March 2018

A new (2017) study demonstrates that reducing hook soak times to less than an hour will likely reduce bycatch of sharks and reef species without impacting grouper CPUE (Foster et al. 2017).

HABITAT

Last updated on 28 February 2018

Due to the biology and habitat preferences of the target species, the handline and longline fisheries operate over, or in close proximity to, sensitive habitat such as coral reefs or outcrops and other live bottom habitats. Specific studies evaluating the impacts of these gears on sensitivie habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and US South Atlantic could not be found, but the impacts are generally considered less severe than mobile gears. 

The ecosystem has been recently modelled, relating components to the environment (Sagarese et al. 2017)​.

Last updated on 28 January 2018

A system of managed areas, including habitat areas of particular concern, marine protected areas, and special management zones, have been implemented by GMFMC over the years that aim to protect sensitive hard bottom habitat from fishing impacts.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 28 Jan 2018

The GMFMC reef fish FMP and subsequent amendments have established management measures that protect coral and hard bottom habitats necessary to many species managed through this plan. The original FMP established a “stressed area” akin to a specialized management zone (SMZ) within which several bottom damaging gears, including fish traps and rollerhead trawls, were prohibited (GMFMC 1981). The intent of this gear restriction was to prevent further damage from these gears and allow regrowth in areas previously affected. Amendment 1 extended the boundaries of the stressed area and also implemented restrictions on the use of bottom longline gear in inshore areas (GMFMC 1989). Although the longline restrictions were not specifically intended for habitat protection, their implementation protected large areas of nearshore waters where coral and live bottom habitats are common. A regulatory amendment in 1999 created the Steamboat Lumps and Madison-Swanson marine reserves which prohibited fishing with any gear within the combined 219 sq-mi reserves (GMFMC 1999). The reserves were originally created for a limited time, but their duration was extended through Amendment 21 (GMFMC 2003), and made permanent through Amendment 30B (GMFMC 2008). Additional closed areas were established through Amendment 19 (GMFMC 2001), which developed the Tortugas Ecological Reserves and prohibited all fishing activity and anchoring within the reserves.

In addition to the habitat protection measures implemented through the reef fish FMP, a number of beneficial measures have been implemented through other means. In particular, the joint GMFMC/SAFMC Fishery Management Plan for Coral and Coral Reefs (GMFMC 1982) established three Coral habitat areas of particular concern (HAPC) within the Gulf of Mexico where fishing with certain bottom tending gear (including longlines) is prohibited. The Coral FMP also prohibits the harvest of stony corals and most gorgonian corals. Subsequent amendments to the plan also address harvest of live rock.

US Gulf of Mexico
United States
Bottom-set longlines

Last updated on 27 March 2018

Longline gear are in contact with the substrate, which may negatively impact sensitive habitats.

Vertical Lines

Last updated on 27 March 2018

Handline gear are generally considered to have minimal to no impact on habitat or the substrate. 

Last updated on 28 January 2018

Handline gear are generally considered to have minimal to no impact on habitat or the substrate. A system of managed areas, including habitat areas of particular concern, marine protected areas, and special management zones, have been implemented by SAFMC over the years that aim to protect sensitive hard bottom habitat from fishing impacts.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 28 Jan 2018

The SAFMC snapper-grouper FMP and subsequent amendments have established management measures that protect coral and hard bottom habitats necessary to many snapper-grouper species. The original FMP prevented the use of explosives and poisons throughout the management area and established a process to designate artificial reefs and other modified habitats as SMZs (SAFMC 1983), while Regulatory Amendment 1 prohibited all gears except handheld hook and line and spear fishing within SMZs (SAFMC 2017). Original documentation could not be acquired, but the SAFMC Snapper Grouper FMP website (SAFMC 2017) indicates that SMZs were later designated in Florida in 1988 (Regulatory Amendment 2) and 1989 (Regulatory Amendment 3), South Carolina in 1992 (Regulatory Amendment 5) and 1998 (Regulatory Amendment 7), and Georgia in 2000 (Regulatory Amendment 8). Further, Amendment 6 (SAFMC 1993) created the 92 square mile Oculina Experimental Closed Area in 1994 which prohibits targeting or harvesting snapper-grouper using any gear within the area, and also prohibits anchoring within the closed area. These regulations not only provide a refuge free from exploitation for snapper-grouper species, but protect critical habitat as well.

A number of HAPC have also been established in U.S. South Atlantic Region that are relevant to snapper-grouper fishery, particularly for longline fishing. The SAFMC established the 92-sq-mi Oculina HAPC in 1984 through the Coral, Coral Reef and Live/Hardbottom Habitat Plan in conjunction with the GMFMC (SAFMC 2005). The boundaries of the Oculina HAPC were later expanded to incorporate an area closed to trawling for rock shrimp, plus two “satellite” Oculina areas (SAFMC 2005), bringing the total area of the HAPC to approximately 300-sq-mi. Eight additional HAPC were later established through Amendment 14 to the snapper-grouper FMP to protect deep water snapper-grouper populations and the habitats they depend upon (SAFMC 2007). The SAFMC then approved the Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment (SAFMC 2009) that established Coral HAPC covering more than 23,000 sq mi to protect what may be the largest contiguous distribution of pristine deep water corals in the world. Regulations within all of the HAPC established by the SAFMC prohibit the use of all bottom tending gear, including bottom trawls, bottom longlines, dredges, fish pots and fish traps, to protect the sensitive coral and other hard bottom habitats within the HAPC. Additionally, Amendment 4 to the snapper-grouper FMP (SAFMC 1991) prohibited the use of longline gear shoreward of 50 fathoms to protect live bottom areas.

Last updated on 28 February 2018

Some coral species are not in the IUCN Red list (see summary for PET species), such as Colpophyllia amaranthus, Dichocaenia stokesii, Manicina arolata, Montastrea annularis, M. cavernosa, P. furgata but atoll’s ecosystems are sensitive to impacts and the interaction with the fishery is not well understood.

The spawning aggregations and the seasonal upwelling occurring in the eastern part of the Bank of Campeche were considered as key factors influencing the pattern of population movements. The movement rates of the juveniles were low throughout the year. According to (Arreguín-Sánchez and Arcos-Huitrón 2011), the juveniles were less active than the rest of the population.

(Scott 2014) mentioned that the reduction of groupers biomass could have substantial impacts on the marine systems since their roles as ecosystem engineers and top predators.

Recent modelling advances will improve the ability to manage this species (Grüss et al. 2017).

Adult red grouper distribute over sandy bottoms, and subsequently bottom longline fishing does not represent a notable threat to sensitive reef habitats (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016).

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 28 Feb 2018

A network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) is established in Mexican waters. A special license is to be required to Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, SEMARNAT) to fish in protected areas and each one possess management programs which regulate activities within. Some MPA overlap with the fishing area (federal states of Tamaulipas, Vera Cruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo): National Park Arrecife de Alacranes, Reserve of Biosphere Arrecifes de Sian Ka’an, National Park Arrecifes de Xcalak, Reserve of Biosphere Banco Chinchorro, National Marine Park Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancún y Punta Nizuc, Laguna de Términos, Reserve of Biosphere Los Petenes, Reserve of Biosphere Ria Celestún, Reserva of Biosphere Los Tuxtlas, National Park Arrecifes de Cozumel, Arrecifes de Tuxpan.

In Tamaulipas (Rancho Nuevo Beach), Yucatán (beach near Río Lagartos) and Quintana Roo (Isla Contoy Beach) there are Sanctuaries for the protection and conservation of sea turtles. Fishing activities during the nesting period in a buffer area of 4 nautical miles are object of special rules (Agreement D.O.F. el 16 de julio de 2002) (SAGARPA 2012). In 2015, it was established a protection area in Quintana Roo for 22 species, including the red grouper (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016).

The closed area has been expanded due to the ongoing FIP (CeDePesca 2017).

FishSource Scores

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MANAGEMENT QUALITY

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STOCK HEALTH:

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ECOSYSTEM IMPACTS

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Bycatch Subscores

Occasional interactions with turtles and dolphins are anecdotally noted but data are not recorded; mortality is thought to be very low. Official statistics are not required to be captured, although the bulk of non-target species for the red and black grouper fishery are generally landed as they have market value, thus are not treated as bycatch in that sense. Bycatch species represent less than 10% of the artesanal fleet catches, and are mainly other fish species although some are considered ETP. Specific studies about the interaction of the fishery with Endangered, Threatened & Protected species are required.

The fishery interacts with turtles and dolphins and corals however the impacts are anticipated to be low, albeit of unknown magnitude.

There is no current indication nor intimation that bycatch species (i.e. not red or black grouper) are imperilled by the fishery, and pending management and compliance improvements should ensure that remains the case.

No bycatch mitigation measures are in place nor have been explicitly proposed, but impacts are low, however general management proposals (reduction of effort, improved compliance) should reduce bycatch. MLS was increased to address the large number of juvenile catches, but more information is needed to assess the compliance with this measure.

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Habitat Subscores

The length of season and location of fishing fleet activity is well known, and the fleet primarily works sandy ground which is resilient to impacts, however some impacting of corals is known to occur. The magnitude of this impact is unknown, however.

Habitat zones are reasonably well researched and various areas are covered by MPAs since being designated as priority habitats.

It is unlikely that the cumulative impacts of the fishery will lead to permanant irreversible damage to the habitat, and impact is anticipated to be low and reducing as management and compliance improves.

An existing MPA network and a fishery that mostly avoids sensitive habitats means that sensitive habitats are decently protected by default and through management measures. Compliance isn't explicitly stated to be a problem as regards habitat degradation, however the full scale of IUU fishing is unknown and therefore it's possible that some habitat impact is unaccounted for.

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Ecosystem Subscores

Understanding of how the fishery impacts the primary members of the species assemblage (red and black grouper) and the wider assemblage, other resident species, and habitat, is rudimentry but nonetheless provides a basis from which to develop greater understanding in future, and to implement precautionary management actions now.

A new (2017) study has defined the ecosystem components and their relationships to the environment in the Northern Gulf of Mexico (Sagarese et al. 2017) which likely shares similarities to the Southern GoM. 

Rudimentary information is known about how the wider grouper assemblage interacts with the habitat and resident species, although any definition of a reference state would likely be low resolution and hampered by sparse data.

The fishery has overfished red grouper below sustainable levels such that effort is moving onto black grouper. The main two grouper species are known to be highly influential in their local ecosystem such that their depletion will lead to a rebalancing by other species. That said, other species within the assemblage are not believed to be overfished and the current state of red and black grouper is not anticipated to be dire nor irreperable.

Ecosystem-centric management objectives are not prioritised however a raft of legislative measures and tightening enforcement introduced in 2013 should address a wide range of problems which impart multiple pressures on the ecosystem, notably reduction of pressure on the two main capture fish species (red and black grouper), closed areas, and generally reduced effort.

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DATA NOTES
  •  Red grouper is the main species of a multispecies fishery. A single stock is considered in the Gulf of Mexico and NW Atlantic, not ruling out the possibility of several reproductively distinct stocks (Richardson and Gold 1997)(Zatcoff et al. 2004). Two stock assessments are conducted, by US and Mexican entities, whose stocks are minimally connected (SEDAR and Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) 2015).

Last updated on 27 March 2018

  • Catch target and limit and annual landings values are reported for the commercial fishery only, in units of thousand metric tons (ton or t) gutted weight.
  • Biomass target and limit and annual spawning stock biomass values are reported in units of fecundity (egg production).
  • Biological reference point values, and SSB and F time series values are taken from SEDAR 42, Section 6, Tables A.1.4 through A.1.6 (SEDAR 2015). 
  • Biomass target reference point is defined as SSB30%SPR.

Last updated on 27 March 2018

  • Catch target and limit and annual landings values are reported for the commercial fishery only, in units of thousand metric tons (ton or t).
  • Biomass target and limit and annual spawning stock biomass values are reported in units thousand metric tons.
  • Biological reference point values, and SSB and F time series values are taken from SEDAR 53, Section 2, Tables 18 (reference points) and 8 (time series) (SEDAR 2017). 
  • Biomass target reference point is defined as SSBMSY.
  • Estimated landings time-series correspond to recreational landings in '000 mt from SEDAR 53
  • Advised TAC time-series refers to the ABC for recreational ABC in '000 mt from SAFMC Amendment 24 Table S-2

Last updated on 27 March 2018

  • Biomass estimates (1980-2012) and the limit reference point Blim are from the last stock assessment performed, considering the scenario of Natural Mortality of 0.24 (Monroy et al. 2010). Other assessments data are presented in the Management Plan.
  • In lack of catch limits and fishing strategy, scores #1, #2 and #3 were determined qualitatively according to available information.
  • Fishing reference points are not available preventing the calculation of score #5 which was determined qualitatively.
  • Biomass, catch, and F values have not been updated in the latest report (SAGARPA-CONAPESCA 2016), rendering the 2014 report (Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF) 2014), with 2011 data, the most recent.
  • Recent catch data (2011 to 2017) are from Producción pesquera por especie

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

SELECT FIP

Access FIP Public Report

Progress Rating: A
Evaluation Start Date: 4 Jun 2014
Type: Comprehensive

Comments:

FIP progress rating remains A with last stage 4/5 achievement within 12 months 

1.
FIP Development
Sep 16
2.
FIP Launch
Aug 18
Aug 18
3.
FIP Implementation
Feb 18
4.
Improvements in Fishing Practices and Fishery Management
Jul 19
5.
Improvements on the Water
Jul 19
6.
MSC certification (optional)
MSC certificate made public

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits
  1. López-Rocha, J.A., Arreguín-Sánchez, F., 2013.Spatial dynamics of the red grouper Epinephelus morio (Pisces: Serranidae) on the Campeche Bank, Gulf of Mexico. Scientia Marina 77(2): 313-322, doi: 10.3989/scimar.03565.13Bhttp://scientiamarina.revistas.csic.es/index.php/scientiamarina/article/view/1453/1568
  2. SAGARPA, 2014. Acuerdo por el que se da a conocer el Plan de Manejo Pesquero de Mero (Epinephelus morio) y especies asociadas en la Península de Yucatán. Diario oficial 25 Noviembre 2014.http://www.inapesca.gob.mx/portal/documentos/Planes-de-Manejo-Pesquero/Golfo/2014_11_25_MAT_sagarpa-PLAN-DE-MERO.pdf
  3. SAGARPA, 2015. Establece SAGARPA zonas de refugio para la protección de 22 especies en Quintana Roo. Press release 13 de Abril de 2015.http://www.inapesca.gob.mx/portal/sala-de-prensa/boletines/467-establece-sagarpa-zonas-de-refugio-para-la-proteccion-de-22-especies-en-quintana-roo
  4. Scott, I., 2014. Pre-Assessment Report for The Campeche Grouper Fishery Final. Intertek Fisheries Certification Ltd, June 2014. 62pp http://cedepesca.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/grouper-msc.pdf
  5. Rosas, R. B., Pérez, M. P., Aguilar, R. W. M., Cervera, K. C., González, J. C. M., Pech, E. F. C., Méndez, J. C. E., González, S. M. Evaluación de mero y especies afines del Golfo de México 2010 - Informe final, Evaluación de mero y especies afines del Golfo de México 2010. Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganaderia, Desarrollo rural, Pesca y Alimentación. Instituto Nacional de Pesca, Centro Regional de Investigación Pesquera de Yucalpeten, 25ppred_grouper_2010.pdf
  6. GMFMC. 2008a. Reef Fish Amendment 29: Effort Management in the Commercial Grouper and Tilefish Fisheries. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 484 pp with appendices. http://www.gulfcouncil.org/Beta/GMFMCWeb/downloads/Final%20Reef%20Fish%20Amdt%2029-Dec%2008.pdf
  7. GMFMC, 2008b. Final Reef Fish Amendment 30b: Gag – End Overfishing And Set Management Thresholds and Targets; Red Grouper – Set Optimum Yield Tac and Management Measures, Time/Area Closures; and Federal Regulatory Compliance. October 2008. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 462 pp. http://www.gulfcouncil.org/Beta/GMFMCWeb/downloads/Final%20Amendment%2030B%2010_10_08.pdf
  8. GMFMC. 2009. Final Amendment 31 to the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources in the Gulf of Mexico. June 2009. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 267 pp. http://gulfcouncil.org/Beta/GMFMCWeb/downloads/Final%20Draft%20RF%20Amend%2031%206-11-09.pdf
  9. GMFMC. 2010. Regulatory amendment to the reef fish fishery management plan to set 2011 total allowable catch for red grouper and establish marking requirements for buoy gear. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 125 p. http://gulfcouncil.org/docs/amendments/2010%20Red%20Grouper%20Regulatory%20Amendment%209-17-10%20final%20with%20signed%20FONSI.pdf
  10. GMFMC. 2011a. Final Regulatory Amendment to set 2011-2015 Total Allowable Catch and Adjust Bag Limit for Red Grouper. August 2011. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 54 pp. http://gulfcouncil.org/docs/amendments/Final%20Regulatory%20Amendment%20-%20Red%20Grouper%20TAC%20&%20Bag%20Limit%202011-8-30.pdf
  11. GMFMC, 2011b. Final Reef Fish Amendment 32: Gag Grouper– Rebuilding Plan, Annual Catch Limits, Management Measures; Red Grouper– Annual Catch Limits, Management Measures Grouper Accountability Measures. October 2011. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 406 pp. http://www.gulfcouncil.org/docs/amendments/Final%20RF32_EIS_October_21_2011%5B2%5D.pdf
  12. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2011. U.S. National Bycatch Report [W. A. Karp, L. L. Desfosse, S. G. Brooke, Editors ]. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-F/SPO-117E, 508 p. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/by_catch/BREP2011/2011_National_Bycatch_Report.pdf
  13. NMFS, 2012. FISHWATCH- US Seafood facts: red grouper. NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). [accessed on 31 May 2012]. http://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/grouper/species_pages/red_grouper.htm
  14. NMFS. 2012. Gulf of Mexico Reef fish proposed quotas. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office. http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/ifq/Proposed_Quotas_20121126161930.pdf
  15. Poffenberger, J. 2004. A report on the discard data from the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Coastal Fisheries Logbook Program. National Marine Fisheries Service, SEFSC, Miami, FL. http://ocean.floridamarine.org/efh_coral/pdfs/FMPs/discardreport01_03.pdf
  16. Richardson, L.R. & J.. Gold, 1997. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in and population structure of red grouper, Epinephelus morio, from the Gulf of Mexico. Fishery Bulletin 95: 174-179.http://fishbull.noaa.gov/951/richardson.pdf
  17. SEDAR 12. 2006. Stock Assessment Report. Gulf of Mexico Red Grouper. SEDAR 12. Stock Assessment Report 1. SEDAR. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. Charleston, SC. 2006 http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/download/S12SAR1%20Gulf%20Red%20Grouper%20Completev2.pdf?id=DOCUMENT
  18. SEDAR 19, 2010. South Atlantic Red Grouper Stock Assessment Report. Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/download/Red_grouper_SAR_FINAL.pdf?id=DOCUMENT
  19. SEDAR, 2009. Stock Assessment of Red Grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. SEDAR Update Assessment, 143 p. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/download/Red_Grouper_2009_Assessment_Update_Report.pdf?id=DOCUMENT
  20. SERO, 2011a. 2010 Commercial Quotas/Catch Allowances in gutted pounds. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office (SERO). 3 January 2012. 11 March 2011. http://ifq.sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/ifqgt/documents/pdf/CommercialQuotasCatchAllowanceTable_2010.pdf
  21. SERO, 2011b. Gulf of Mexico 2010 Preliminary Recreational Landings (lbs) by Two-month Wave. last updated at 6 September 2011. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office (SERO).http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/ACL_2010_rec_landings.pdf
  22. SERO, 2012a. 2011 Commercial Quotas/Catch Allowances in gutted pounds. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office (SERO). 3 January 2012. http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/CommercialQuotasCatchAllowanceTable_2011.pdf
  23. SERO, 2012b. Gulf of Mexico 2011 Recreational Landings (lbs) by Two-month Wave. last updated May 15, 2012. National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office (SERO). http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/2011GulfRecLandingsandACLs.html
  24. Sinclair, M. and G. Valdimarsson (eds). 2003. Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=qwvNev8JiQwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA321&dq=bottom+longline+anchor+impacts+on+ecosystem+gulf+of+mexico&ots=oH0DjftOI0&sig=A06OoabNzCv525DrGgzn1hdP8DA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  25. Zatcoff, M.S., A.O. Ball & G.R. Sedberry, 2004. Population genetic analysis of red grouper, Epinephelus morio, and scamp, Mycteroperca phenax, from the southeastern U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Marine Biology 144: 769–777. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/sedar/download/S19_RD05_ZatcoffEtAl_MarBio04.pdf?id=DOCUMENT
References

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    Red grouper - Gulf of Mexico and NW Atlantic

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