NEW: At their June meeting, the FWC approved the creation of the Gulf Reef Fish Data Reporting System, a mandatory requirement for private recreational anglers fishing from a boat to harvest, attempt to harvest, or possess red snapper, gag, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, red grouper, black grouper, vermilion snapper, or gray triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico, excluding Monroe County. This requirement becomes mandatory April 1, 2015.


 

Saltwater Black Grouper by Kyle Miller
 Photo by Kyle Miller

Grouper are managed differently in the Gulf versus the Atlantic. Click on the links below for information about grouper regulations in Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico state waters.

 

New Federal Regulations (Gulf)

Harvest of red grouper in federal waters will close beginning Oct. 4, 2014 and remain closed through December 31, 2014. For more information, please refer to the NOAA Fisheries Bulletin.

 

New Federal Regulations (Atlantic)

Recreational harvest of golden tilefish and snowy grouper will close in Atlantic federal waters beginning June 7, 2014. Recreational harvest of both species will reopen on January 1, 2015. For more information, please refer to the NOAA Fisheries Bulletin.  


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Grouper-Federal Recreational Regulations Chart

Federal waters begin where state waters end and extend about 200 nautical miles from shore. State waters are from shore to 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic and from shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf.

For regulations in state waters:

Gulf

Atlantic

 

Groupers

Federal Waters

Gulf of Mexico

Federal Waters

Atlantic

Grouper Aggregate 4 per person (state waters included) 3 per person (state waters and Monroe County included)

Goliath/Nassau

  Harvest prohibited (state waters included)

Gag

22" TL

2 per person within 4 grouper aggregate

2014 season: Opens July 1; closure to be announced

24 " TL

1 gag or black grouper combined per person

Closed Jan-Apr

Black

22" TL

4 per person within 4 grouper aggregate

Closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of 20 fathoms

"The Edges" closed Jan. 1 - April 30

24" TL

1 gag or black grouper combined per person

Closed Jan-Apr

Red

3 per person within the 4 grouper aggregate.

Harvest closed for the remainder of the year effective Oct. 4, 2014

20" TL                  

Annual closures: Closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of 20 fathoms

"The Edges" closed Jan 1 - Apr 30

20" TL

within 3 grouper aggregate

Closed Jan.- April                     

   

Scamp

16" TL

within 4 grouper aggregate

Closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of 20 fathoms

"The Edges" closed Jan 1 - Apr 30

Yellowfin

20" TL

within 4 grouper aggregate

Closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of 20 fathoms

"The Edges" closed Jan 1 - Apr 30

Yellowmouth

within 4 grouper aggregate

Closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of 20 fathoms

Rock Hind/Red Hind

  

within 3 grouper aggregate

Closed Jan-Apr

Coney/Graysby/Tiger

within 3 grouper aggregate

Closed Jan-Apr

Tiger not federally managed

Yellowedge/Misty

within 4 grouper aggregate (Misty not in aggregate) within 3 grouper aggregate

Warsaw/Speckled Hind

1 of each per vessel within 4 grouper aggregate

Harvest Prohibited 

Snowy

within 4 grouper aggregate

NEW Closed through December 31, 2014. See update above.

 

Other speciesState waters  

Federal Waters

Gulf of Mexico

Federal Waters

Atlantic

Golden Tilefish within grouper aggregate; 1 per person Atlantic   NEW Closed through December 31, 2014. See update above.
Blueline Tilefish 100 pounds or 2 whole fish (whichever is greater)  within 20 per person reef fish aggregate   within 3 grouper aggregate
Sand Tilefish  
Black Sea Bass

Gulf: 10" TL and 100 pounds/person/day 

Atlantic: 13" TL  with 5 per person bag limit

 10" TL (state rules apply)  

13" TL

5 per person

Reef fish as bait all fish must be landed in whole condition; legal-sized whole fish may be used as bait but counted against bag limit  Use prohibited  must have heads and fins intact through landing

 

20-Fathom Map

NOAA Fisheries has established a boundary line commonly referred to as the “20 fathom break” that approximately details the actual 20 Fathom (120 foot) depth curve. The 20 fathom depth curve is depicted on NOAA – OCS Chart #11006 

Several species of Gulf grouper (red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth and scamp) are closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom break. Gag grouper has its own season and is also closed during this time.

To comply with the Gulf  grouper regulations, recreational anglers are encouraged to use electronic charting equipment to plot the 20-fathom break by entering the established coordinates into a route. Establishing the route will allow the captain to determine the vessels position relative to the boundary line. Simply using a depth recorder to estimate your position relative to the closed area may not be sufficient, as it is possible to find areas that are deeper than 120 feet shoreward of the boundary line as well as areas shallower than 120 feet seaward of the boundary line. In other words, the established boundary line is to be used in determining the closed area rather than water depth.    

Monroe County: Several species of Atlantic grouper (red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth, scamp, rock hind, red hind, coney, graysby and tiger) are closed Jan. 1 - April 30 in all state and federal waters (tiger are not included in the federal closure) of the Atlantic including all state waters off Monroe County (Atlantic and Gulf sides). During this closure, anglers can harvest grouper in open federal waters of the Gulf (see mapAdobe PDF) and return to port in Monroe County by traveling through closed state waters of the Gulf as long as the vessel proceeds directly to port without stopping to fish. Gag grouper has its own season and is also closed during this time.

 shallow-water-grouper-map.jpg

 20-Fathom MapAdobe PDF

Gag Grouper Management Zones Adobe PDF

Click map or link above for a larger PDF.

Gag-grouper-Regulations-Map.jpg

 

Additional Grouper Resources

Learn more about grouper biology by clicking on the individual species pages below.

Links for More Information



FWC Facts:
Groupers are very slow-growing fish, taking anywhere from 4-8 years to reach sexual maturity.

Learn More at AskFWC