Image credit: Ross Robertson - Contact

Lutjanus campechanus

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Life History Parameters Value
Maximum weight (kg) 23
Maximum age (year) 48
Age at length 0 (year) -0.395
Age at Maturity (months) 24
Maximum Length (cm) 100
Length at Maturity (cm) 23
Linf. Asymptotic Length (cm) 85.64
K - von Bertalanffy growth coefficient 0.19
Natural Mortality 0.1

Spawning Season (Peak month in bold):
- - - - May Jun Jul Aug Sep - - -

Habitat and Distribution

This species occurs in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. Juveniles are common on sand and mud bottoms, whereas adults are common on natural and artificial reefs.

Spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico

In the GOM, this species spawns from May to September with peak spawning occurring from June to August.

Spawning Patterns

Red Snapper form schools of hundreds to a few thousand fish at coastal and offshore habitats (natural and artificial reefs, oil platforms, etc) throughout the year and spawn within these schools rather than concentrating spawning at a few, highly populated sites. Spawning is therefore widely distributed over a large number of sites and occurs over a wide depth range of 15-75 m. Therefore, Red Snapper may best be described as resident aggregation spawners as there is no evidence that coordinated migrations to specific spawning sites occurs. There is also no information to suggest that densities at spawning sites are significantly higher than non-spawning sites. Therefore, it is also reasonable to categorize this species as a simple migratory species rather than an aggregation spawner. Off the southeast coast of Florida, spawning activity peaks during the late morning to early afternoon hours, but some fish spawn throughout the day. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, spawning occurs over a five hour period beginning in the early afternoon (1330 h) and peaking near 1600 h. There is no evidence of a lunar spawning cycle. Individual females spawn every 3 to 6 days on average, and spawning frequency increases with age and length. Red Snapper are broadcast spawners with external fertilization.

Fishing Patterns in Relation to Spawning

Commercial landings peak in February and are the lowest during peak spawning months (June to August). Recreational landings are greatest in May and June, followed by July to August, which coincides with the spawning season.

Management of Spawning Aggregations

The commercial fishery is managed under the IFQ program, except for Florida and Texas which have a daily catch limit. Net and spearing gear are prohibited in federal waters for the commercial fishery. There are no seasonal closures for the commercial fishery. The recreational fishery is subject to a daily catch limit of 2 in federal waters. In state waters, the catch limit is the same as the federal catch limit, or slightly less restrictive. Recreational gigging is permitted in all gulf states. The recreational fishery is open Jun. 1 - Jun. 11 for private and Jun. 1 - Jul. 16 for federal for-hire permit holders. The open season occurs during peak spawning months. Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps and the Edges are closed year round. The minimum size is 13" TL for commercial and 16" for recreational.

Research and Management Priorities