Recreational season for snapper grouper spelled out with size and bag limits

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, January 5, 2022

North Carolina Marine Fisheries Proclamation FF-9-2022 establishes the 2022 recreational season and applicable size limits and bag limits for snapper grouper species beginning 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2022.

To sell or offer for sale any species of the snapper grouper complex taken or possessed under the recreational bag limits, the vessel owner must have a valid Federal Commercial South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Permit.

For a vessel with both a valid Federal South Atlantic Charter/Headboat Permit for snapper grouper and a valid Federal Commercial South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Permit it is unlawful to exceed the recreational bag limits for snapper grouper species when fishing with more than four persons (including captain and mate) on board or when carrying paying customers. And, it is unlawful to sell or offer for sale any species of the snapper grouper complex harvested when fishing with more than four persons (including captain and mate) on board or when carrying paying customers.

Black sea bass, south of Cape Hatteras (35° 15.0321’ N. Latitude): Length: not less than 13 inches; bag limit: seven per person per day

Groupers:

— Speckled hind, warsaw grouper, Nassau grouper and goliath grouper: do not possess.

— Black grouper or gag grouper: not less than 24 inches total length.

— Red grouper, yellowfin (fireback) grouper, yellowmouth grouper or scamp: not less than 20 inches total length.

— Shallow water grouper species, including gag grouper, black grouper, scamp, rock hind, red hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper and yellowmouth grouper. Do not possess shallow water grouper series taken from the waters under the jurisdiction of North Carolina or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council from Jan. 1 through April 30, 2022.

— Snowy grouper: Possess only May 1 through Aug. 31 each year.

— Red grouper: do not possess from Jan. 1 to May 31, 2022.

— Greater amberjack: not less than 28 inches; one greater amberjack per person per day.

— Other jacks, including almaco jack, banded rudderfish and lesser amberjack opens Jan. 1, 2022. These species are included in the 20 fish aggregate per person per day recreational bag and possession limit.

Red snapper: do not possess red snapper taken from waters under the jurisdiction of North Carolina or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Vermilion snapper: do not possess beeliner less than 12 inches total length; five vermilion snapper per person per day.

Hogfish (hog snapper): Do not possess hogfish less than 17 inches fork length; two hogfish per person per day.

Other snappers, including yellowtail snapper, cubera snapper and gray snapper: do not possess less than 12 inches total length.

— Mutton snapper: do not possess less than 18 inches total length.

— Lane snapper: do not possess less than eight inches total length.

Deepwater complex, including yellowedge grouper, silk snapper, misty grouper, queen snapper, sand tilefish, and blackfin snapper: season opened Jan. 1, 2022

— Silk snapper, queen snapper and blackfin snapper: not less than 12 inches total length.

— Silk snapper, queen snapper and blackfin snapper are included in the 10 fish aggregate per person per day recreational bag and possession limit.

— Yellowedge grouper, misty grouper and sand tilefish are included in the three fish aggregate per person per day recreational bag and possession limit.

Red porgy: no not possess red porgy less than 14 inches total length or possess more than three red porgy per person per day or three per person per trip, whichever is more restrictive.

Other porgies, including jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, whitebone porgy, saucereye porgy and scup. Species included in the 20 fish in the aggregate per person per day recreational bag and possession limit.

Golden tilefish: recreation season opens Jan. 1, 2022; subject to bag limits.

Blueline tilefish: season is May 1 through Aug. 31 each year, subject to the bag limits.

Gray triggerfish: not less than 12 inches fork length and is subject to the bag limits.

Wreckfish: no more than one wreckfish per vessel per day from July 1 through Aug. 31, 2022.

Combined Bag Limits:

It is unlawful to possess more than five vermilion snapper and 10 of the following species of snappers in the aggregate per person per day when the recreational season for each species is open: silk snapper, blackfin snapper, yellowtail snapper, cubera snapper, queen snapper, gray snapper, mutton snapper and lane snapper. No more than five may be mutton snapper per person per day within the 10 fish snapper aggregate.

It is unlawful to possess more than three of the following species of groupers or tilefish in the aggregate per person per day when the recreational season for each species is open: gag grouper, black grouper, snowy grouper, misty grouper, red grouper, scamp, rock hind, red hind, coney, graysby, yellowedge grouper, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper; blueline tilefish, golden tilefish and sand tilefish with the following restrictions:

— No more than one may be a gag or black grouper (but not both) per person per day;

— No more than one golden tilefish per person per day.

— No more than one snowy grouper per vessel per day.

It is unlawful to possess more than 10 of the following species of fish within the 20 fish per person per day aggregate bag limit when the recreational season for each species is open: whitebone porgy, jolthead porgy, knobbed porgy, saucereye porgy, scup (south of Cape Hatteras, 35° 15.0321’ N. Latitude), gray triggerfish, bar jack, almaco jack, banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, white grunt, margate, sailor’s choice and spadefish.

Harvest Restrictions:

— Must use dehooking tools in snapper grouper fisheries when the fish is to be released.

— Heads and fins must be intact if possessing any species in snapper grouper complex.

Gear Modifications:

— Must use non-offset, no stainless steel circle hooks while using natural baits.

— It is unlawful to fail to possess a descending device on board which is readily available for use while fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species. A descending device is defined as an instrument capable of releasing the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught and to which is attached a minimum of a 16-ounce weight and a minimum of a 60-foot length of line.

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