Fishing gears used to harvest black grouper have minimal impacts on habitat. The groupers complex is not subject to overfishing based on 2019 catch data.
Black grouper take advantage of other species’ reproductive aggregations for feeding. They are particularly associated with the southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, Cuba, the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean.
Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature black grouper. The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect black grouper during their peak spawning period.
Minimum size limits protect immature black grouper. Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers.
Groupers are managed separately by commercial and recreational sector in Puerto Rico. Seasonal closure for black, red, tiger, yellow fin, and yellow edge groupers from February 1 through April 30.
Western Central Atlantic Ocean Black grouper caught in Mexico by the industrial set longline fleet is on the “Avoid” list.
In addition, black grouper is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Most grouper caught by the industrial set longline fishery is imported fresh to the U.S.
View description of score criterion Black grouper caught in the U.S. Atlantic or U.S. Gulf of Mexico with vertical lines is a “Good Alternative.” Vertical lines have minimal to no impacts on the seafloor, and policies to protect groupers' role in the ecosystem are in place.
Black grouper caught in Mexico by the industrial bottom longline fleet is on the “Avoid” list. In addition, black grouper is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
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Photo © Leroy Elliptic oblong reef fish has small eyes over a protruding lower jaw, and a continuous dorsal fin that leads back to its square caudal (tail) fin. It’s an olive gray color with dark blotches and bronze hexagonal shapes on its head and sides.
They prefer the rocky bottoms around reefs in the Western Atlantic, where they eat smaller fish and crustaceans, and grow to almost 52 inches long. The meat generates a fairly high price and is considered very good quality.
Ciguatera poisoning is caused by dinoflagellates (micro algae) found on dead corals or macro algae. By feeding on these corals and macro algae, herbivorous fishes accumulate a toxin generated by these dinoflagellates.
If accumulated levels of the toxin are great enough they can cause poisoning in humans whom consume the flesh of these fishes. Poisoned people report having gastrointestinal problems for up to several days, and a general weakness in their arms and legs.
Black grouper are fished both recreationally and commercially in waters around Florida, in particular the Gulf of Mexico. The IUCN is a global union of states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a partnership that assesses the conservation status of species.
It is also present in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, including the Florida Keys and Cuba. Black groupers are found mainly on rocky bottoms and in coral reef environments.
Photo © George Ryschkewitsch Distinctive Features The black grouper is a large hearty fish with a protruding lower jaw. It has an ob longed body shape and rounded margins on both the dorsal and anal fins.
The preopercule is rounded without the presence of a notch, which distinguishes it from the gag grouper (Mycteroperca microbes). Black groupers are olive or gray with dark blotches and bronze spots.
These teeth are not used to tear flesh as with the barracudas and sharks, but rather to prevent small fish from escaping. Size, Age, and Growth Black groupers can reach up to 52 inches (133 cm) in length and can weigh up to 179 pounds (81 kg).
Food Habits Adult black grouper feed primarily on other smaller reef fishes, including grunts, snapper, and herrings. Grouper is available year-round with peak catches in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico occurring during the summer and fall.
Species Habitat Black grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean with ranges extending from Massachusetts to Brazil. They are particularly associated with the southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, Cuba, the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean.
Juveniles can occur in seagrass and oyster rubble habitat in the Carolina's, and along reefs in the Florida Keys and in Brazil. Adults prefer rocky bottoms, drop-off walls and ledges, caves, crevices, and coral and artificial reefs.
While they are relatively sedentary and can remain in one particular site for some time, black grouper move to progressively deeper waters as they age. They used passive acoustic recorders to monitor sound production indicative of spawning habitat use by groupers at Riley’s Hump in the Tortuga's South Ecological Reserve in Florida, the first known US spawning site for black grouper.
This study illustrated the importance of the Tortuga's South Ecological Reserve and called for continued research in order to understand its role in the recovery and sustainability of managed fish populations. Because of the vulnerability to overfishing associated with large aggregations and the biodiversity therein, it is important to consider spawning locations in the establishment of marine protected areas and seasonal closures.
Limiting the number of available permits (both transferable and nontransferable) available to commercial fishers; Establishing annual catch limits for both commercial and recreational fishers; Establishing overall species quotas; Commercial and recreational size limits to reduce harvest of immature grouper ; Seasonal closures to protect spawning aggregations; Gear restrictions to protect habitat and reduce by catch; and, Eight deep-water marine protected areas closed to fishing and possession of snapper and grouper. Established in 1984, the Reef Fish FMP and its amendments were designed to end historic overfishing for shallow water groupers and to rebuild populations.
Establishes and allocates annual species-specific catch limits between commercial and recreational fishers for groupers and tile fish; Sets gear restrictions; Sets minimum size restrictions to protect immature grouper ; and, Establishes year round and seasonal area closures for both commercial and recreational fishers to protect spawning stock and essential fish habitat. The If program allocates shares of the total commercial catch limit amongst individual fishers.
Under the program, each fisher owns a share of the quota and can choose to fish it at anytime during the open season. Strict commercial reporting requirements prevent fishers from harvesting more than their individual allocation.
Red and black grouper are among the most important species caught in Mexico in terms of volume and economic value. Most grouper, particularly those caught in the Mexican industrial bottom longline fishery, is imported to the US.
Numerous entities are involved to some degree with creating, implementing, and enforcing fishery management strategies in Mexico. Under SAGA RPA, the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission (Coalesce) is charged with developing and carrying out fisheries management regulations.
Wild Black grouper are found in the Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike red grouper, black grouper in the United States is considered to be one stock across both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions.
Grouper in generally are fairly long-lived and come together to spawn in large numbers, characteristics that make them vulnerable to fishing pressure. A May 2014 Seafood Watch report stated that according to the most recent stock assessment in 2010, black grouper is not considered overfished.
Grouper fisheries have high impacts on nontarget species, the Monterey Bay Aquarium reported. The black grouper fisheries use hooking devices and circle hooks to reduce by catch.
Venting tools are also employed to make it easier for reef fish to survive when released. Management measures include permits, annual catch limits, fishing quotas, marine protected areas that are closed to fishing, seasonal closures, gear restrictions, minimum size limits, and data reporting requirements.