Image credit: Ross Robertson - Contact
Habitat and Distribution
This species has a circumtropical distribution. In the western Atlantic, it occurs from Cape Cod to Argentina, including the Gulf of Mexico. It is mostly oceanic, but does occur near coasts in both pelagic and demersal environments.
Spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico
No detailed information exists on the spawning season for this species in the Gulf of Mexico. Collections of juveniles and adults off Southeast Florida suggested that spawning occurs during the spring months, while collections of eggs and adults along the South Atlantic coast of the U.S. concluded that spawning occurred during the summer and fall. In the Caribbean, spawning aggregations have been reported in October and November. Based on available data, the regional spawning season is estimated to be from April through November.
No detailed information exists on the spawning patterns of this species. However, anecdotal information suggests that Almaco Jack are partial migratory spawners that form spawning aggregations of several hundred to several thousand fish comprised of resident and transient individuals. In the Caribbean, aggregations form adjacent to reef promontories at depths of 250-300 m. Spawning has not been observed in the wild. Almaco Jack are broadcast spawners with external fertilization.
Fishing Patterns in Relation to Spawning
Commercial landings are consistent throughout the year with a small peak in June, which coincides with the beginning of the spawning season. Average monthly landings during spawning months are generally greater than during non-spawning months. Recreational landings increase noticebly in May and remain high through September, which coincides with the entire spawning season. Average monthly landings are greater in spawning months than in non spawning months.
Management of Spawning Aggregations
The Almaco Jack commercial fishery is managed jointly with Lesser Amberjack and Banded Rudderfish by an annual catch limit in federal waters. The recreational fishery in federal waters is managed by a daily catch limit of 20 that must fit within a total catch limit of 20 for similar reef fishes. There are no commercial catch limits for Almaco Jack in gulf state waters. Recreational catch limits range from no limit to a daily catch limit of 20 that must fit within a total catch limit of 20 for similar reef fishes. There are no commercial or recreational seasonal closures for the fishery. Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps and the Edges are closed year round.
Research and Management Priorities
Information is needed on spawning seasonality, the timing and distribution of spawning sites, behavioral patterns in relation to spawning, and fishing patterns in relation to spawning.