Image credit: Carlos & Allison Estape - Contact
Habitat and Distribution
This species occurs in the western Atlantic from South Carolina to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Adults and juveniles are found on reefs, with juveniles also found in mangroves.
Spawning season in the Gulf of Mexico
In the GOM, this species is reported to spawn year round with peak spawning during April and May.
Very little information is available on the spawning patterns and behavior of Yellowmouth Grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. Adults are common along the middle and outer shelf reefs throughout the Gulf at depths greater than 30 meters, where they are often misidentified as Scamp. Yellowmouth Grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites. Spawning occurs year round, but adults are thought to form larger aggregations during the peak months of April and May and smaller aggregations throughout the remaining months. Based on their presumed similarity to Scamp, aggregations are estimated to be comprised of tens to a few hundred fish during peak spawning months. Yellowmouth Grouper are broadcast spawners with asynchronous development and external fertilization.
Fishing Patterns in Relation to Spawning
Commercial landings show a slight increase during the months of May and June but are fairly consistent throughout the year. Recreational landings also peak May and June. Yellowmouth grouper spawn all year long, but peak spawning occurs in April and May.
Management of Spawning Aggregations
The commercial fishery is managed under the IFQ program in federal waters and Florida, and there are no seasonal closures. Net and spearing gear are prohibited in federal waters for the commercial fishery. The other gulf states do not set a commercial catch limit. 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. Florida is the only state to set a catch limit, which is the same as the federal limit. The recreational fishery is closed Feb. 1 - Mar. 31 beyond 20 fathoms. Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps and the Edges are closed year round.