Image credit: NOAA - Contact
Habitat and Distribution
Adults and juveniles are found on hard bottom habitats from Massachusetts to Brazil in the western Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean.
Spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico
The spawning season in the GOM is not well documented. The species spawns in May off the Southeast US and during April and May in Cuba. Current research by Lowerre-Barbieri and colleagues (unpublished) reported that spawning capable females were collected in June, July, August, September, and November. Actively spawning females were collected in June and November, and regenerating females were collected throughout the year. Based on these reports, the spawning season in the GOM is estimated to be April to November.
No detailed information exists on the spawning patterns or mating behavior of Warsaw Grouper. Based on anecdotal evidence from other areas and expert, scientific opinion, we concluded it likely forms a mix of transient and resident spawning aggregations along the edge and slopes of the continental shelf. Adults in spawning condition have been collected in deep holes, notches, valleys, drop-offs, and Oculina reefs with rocky bottoms at depths of 55 to 525 meters in depth. Current research indicates that Warsaw Grouper are likely protogynous hermaphrodites. Adults are broadcast, multiple batch spawners with external fertilization.
Fishing Patterns in Relation to Spawning
Commercial landings do not vary much throughout the year, but average monthly landings are almost always greater during the spawning months compared to the during non-spawning months. Recreational landings peak during May and June, which corresponds to the spawning season.
Management of Spawning Aggregations
The commercial fishery is managed under the IFQ program and there are no seasonal closures for either the commercial or recreational fishery, except for Florida where the commercial fishery is closed. Net and spearing gear are prohibited in federal waters for the commercial fishery. The recreational fishery in federal waters is subject to a daily catch limit of 1 that must fit within a total catch limit of 4 similar grouper. . Catch limits in state waters are the same as the federal limit, except for Texas and Alabama which do not set a catch limit. Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps and the Edges are closed year round