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Mycteroperca venenosa

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Life History Parameters Value
Maximum weight (kg) 19
Maximum age (year) 15
Age at length 0 (year) 0.75
Age at Maturity (months) 44
Maximum Length (cm) 100
Length at Maturity (cm) 54
Linf. Asymptotic Length (cm) 89.0
K - von Bertalanffy growth coefficient 0.12
Natural Mortality 0.26

Spawning Season (Peak month in bold):
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug - - - -

Habitat and Distribution

This species occurs in the western Atlantic from Bermuda to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Adults are found on reefs and sometimes mud bottoms, whereas juveniles occur in seagrass beds.

Spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico

Yellowfin Grouper show significant variations in the seasonal timing of spawning in different regions within the Gulf of Mexico. In northwest Cuba, spawning occurs from January through March with peak spawning during January and February. Spawning is reported to occur from March to May on the Campeche Banks in Mexico, during March in the Florida Keys, and March to August off the west Florida shelf in the eastern Gulf. To be inconclusive of this variability, we provided a protracted regional estimate that spans from January to August with peak spawning from March to May.

Spawning Patterns

Yellowfin Grouper form transient spawning aggregations of tens to a few thousand fish at very specific sites and during predictable periods associated with the lunar cycle (e.g. days following the full moon). Spawning aggregations are most common on reefs, seamounts, and shelf edges at depths of 5 to 50 meters. Spawning often occurs at sites that are also utilized by Nassau Grouper, Black Grouper, Tiger Grouper, and other species of grouper. Adults are sexually dichromatic during spawning, where individuals can take on multiple color phases. Males have a bright yellow blotch on both sides of the lower jaw while most spawning females retain a reddish lower jaw. Fish with distended abdomens, which are likely females in spawning condition, can take on a bicolor phase, in which the dorsal portion is dark gray and the ventral portion of the body is lighter or white. Larger individuals thought to be spawning males may take on a white-headed phase with light colored cranial markings, a darker gray to black body, and highly contrasting white fins with thin, marginal black bands. These fish also have the yellow lower jaw typical of males, and they also have yellow over the eyes, on the anterior dorsal fin, and the dorsal portion of the caudal peduncle. Courtship occurs in groups during the evening hours along drop offs in the reef. Spawning has been observed to occur during to just after sunset in small groups of 5 to 6 individuals. Yellowfin Grouper are broadcast spawners with asynchronous development and external fertilization.

Fishing Patterns in Relation to Spawning

Commercial landings peak in May, during the peak spawning season and then are consistent throughout the rest of the year. Recreational landings are variable throughout the year and show no clear pattern in relation to spawning.

Management of Spawning Aggregations

The commercial fishery is managed under the IFQ program and there are no seasonal closures. 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 4 that must fit within a total catch limit of 4 similar grouper. In state waters, the catch limit is the same as the federal limit, except for Texas which does not set a limit. The recreational fishery is closed Feb. 1 - Mar. 31 beyond 20 fathoms. Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps and the Edges are closed year round. The minimum size is 20" TL for commercial and recreational.

Research and Management Priorities