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Archosargus probatocephalus

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Life History Parameters Value
Maximum weight (kg) 9.6
Maximum age (year) 20
Age at length 0 (year) -0.42
Age at Maturity (months) 24
Maximum Length (cm) 92
Length at Maturity (cm) 30
Linf. Asymptotic Length (cm) 46.3
K - von Bertalanffy growth coefficient 0.36
Natural Mortality 0.15

Spawning Season (Peak month in bold):
- Feb Mar Apr - - - - - - - -

Habitat and Distribution

This species occurs along coasts and in estuaries and brackish water in the western Atlanic from Nova Scotia to Brazil, including the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico

In the GOM, this species is reported to spawn from late February through April with peak spawning in March and early April.

Spawning Patterns

Sheepshead migrate to form transient spawning aggregations of hundreds to tens of thousands of individuals at the mouths of channel passes and offshore reefs and oil platforms. Sheepshead are broadcast spawners with external fertilization.

Fishing Patterns in Relation to Spawning

This species is caught commercially, recreationally, and incidentally throughout the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf, Sheepshead rank among the most important inshore recreational fisheries, and landings peak from February to April when fish aggregate to spawn at jetties, channel passes, and offshore oil platforms. Average montly commercial and recreational landings are greater duing spawning months than non-spawning months

Management of Spawning Aggregations

Sheepshead are managed independently by state regulatory commissions in the US Gulf of Mexico. Currently, no management measures exist in the US Gulf of Mexico that specifically target the protection of spawning. However, current fishery regulations for the species include minimimum size limits, daily catch (bag) limits, and gear restrictions (e.g. bans on use of gill nets). In Mexico in the southern Gulf, no species-specific management regulations exist for commercial fisheries targeting Sheepshead.

Research and Management Priorities

While numerous studies have been conducted on the reproductive biology and life history of Sheepshead in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, very little information is available on the behavioral dynamics of spawning or the potential impacts of targeted fishing of spawning aggregations on Sheepshead stocks and fisheries.