Managing snapper and grouper fisheries is challenging due to the large number of species in the management unit and the lack of basic data on many of the species. On top of that, many of these species grow slowly, aren't able to mature until late in life, and live a long time - species like this often take years to fully recover from overfishing.
- Ocean perch
- Sea Bass
- Turbot (Greenland)
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Snapper, Beeliner, Clubhead Snapper, Night Snapper
- U.S. wild-caught from North Carolina to Texas
- FISHING RATE
- HABITAT IMPACTS
Click the icons to learn more about each criteria
Vermilion snapper catch.LAUNCH GALLERY
Similar in appearance to their larger cousin, the red snapper, vermilion snapper is the most frequently caught snapper along the southeastern United States. The commercial and recreational fisheries for this species are actively managed in both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico through size limits, bag limits, and catch quotas. Managers have set strict annual catch limits for these fisheries at a level intended to prevent overfishing. In the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, when the commercial annual catch limit is reached, the vermilion snapper fishery is closed for the rest of the year, protecting the species from overharvest. There are similar accountability measures for the recreational fishery. Managers also recently implemented annual catch limits and accountability measures for the Caribbean snapper group, which includes vermilion snapper.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Vermilion snapper are found in waters 60 to 400 feet deep from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to southeastern Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico. They're most abundant in water less than 180 feet deep. Vermilion snapper live on the seafloor, commonly over rock, gravel, or sand bottoms near the edge of the continental and island shelves. They often swim in large schools but do not travel very far.
Vermilion snapper grow slowly, up to 2 feet long and 7 pounds. They're able to reproduce when they're young, between 1 and 2 years old. They spawn multiple times from April to September, but most often from June to August. Vermilion snapper eat fish, shrimp, crabs, polychaetes, and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates, as well as cephalopods and plankton (tiny floating plants and animals). Vermilion snapper have been found to live to at least 15 years.
Vermilion snapper have streamlined bodies. They are pale to silvery white below and vermilion (orange-red) above. They have narrow, yellow-gold streaks (some horizontal and others diagonal) below the lateral line. Their back (dorsal) fin is rosy colored with a yellow edge. The tail (caudal) fin is red with a faint black edge.
Scientists from NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center monitor the abundance of snapper stocks. Scientists, managers, and stakeholders assess the status of these stocks through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) process.
In the South Atlantic, the vermilion snapper stock assessment data (2012) indicated that overfishing was not occurring. However, while the stock is not overfished, results suggest that the spawning stock (fish capable of reproducing) has declined over the course of 1946 to 2011. Spawning stock size is approximately 25 percent of the level estimated in 1946. This stock is tentatively scheduled to be re-assessed in 2014.
The Gulf of Mexico vermilion snapper stock assessment was last completed in 2011 and the stock is at 92 percent of its target population.
In the Caribbean, vermilion snapper is managed as part of a group of snappers (Snapper Unit 1). While population size is not estimated, catch levels in 2011 were below the level set for the management unit. Overfishing is likely not occurring.
Harvesting Vermilion Snapper
Vermilion snapper is one of the most frequently caught snapper along the southeastern coast. In the South Atlantic, vermilion snapper is harvested in the snapper grouper fishery, mainly from North Carolina to northeast Florida. In the Gulf, vermilion snapper is harvested in the reef fish fishery along with other snapper and grouper species, mainly off the Gulf coast of Florida and Texas. In the U.S. Caribbean, vermilion snapper is also harvested in the reef fish fishery along with other snapper and grouper species.
In all regions, commercial fishermen primarily use vertical hook-and-line gear (handline and bandit gear) to catch snapper. While it has minimal impacts on habitat, hook-and-line gear can incidentally catch other finfish. Fishermen in the Gulf and South Atlantic are required to use circle hooks and dehooking devices to improve the chance of survival of any unintentionally caught fish. In the Gulf of Mexico, they're also required to use venting tools when necessary. (When reef fish are brought quickly to the surface by hook and line, the gas in their swimbladder can overexpand. Venting tools help deflate the expanded swimbladder, preventing serious injury to the fish.) Management also prohibits the use of trawl gear, fish traps, entanglement nets, and bottom longlines (in certain areas) in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to reduce bycatch. Several areas are also closed to fishing to protect sensitive snapper and grouper populations. Similarly, in the U.S. Caribbean, fishing with pots, traps, bottom longlines, gillnets, or trammel nets is prohibited year-round in certain areas to reduce any adverse fishing impacts in federal waters.
Who’s in charge? NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Fishery Management Councils
South Atlantic: Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region
- Commercial fishermen must have a permit to harvest snappers and groupers. Managers limit the number of permits to control participation in the fishery and potential harvest rates.
- Annual catch limits—implemented in 2011—were divided between the commercial and recreational sectors; the commercial quota is further divided between two 6-month fishing seasons. Managers set annual catch limits at levels that will prevent overfishing. When the commercial annual catch limit is harvested, the vermilion snapper fishery is closed for the rest of the year, protecting the resource from overharvest.
- Limit on the amount that a commercial vessel can harvest per fishing trip.
- Several "marine protected areas" are closed to fishing for and possession of snapper and grouper to protect a portion of the population and habitat of long-lived deepwater snapper-grouper species.
- Minimum size limit to slow the rate of harvest and to protect spawning stocks and juveniles.
- Gear restrictions prohibit the use of trawls, traps, and longlines (in some areas) to reduce bycatch.
Gulf of Mexico: Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan
- Commercial fishermen must have a permit to harvest reef fish.
- Minimum size limit to slow the rate of harvest and to protect spawning stocks and juveniles.
- Gear requirements and restrictions to reduce bycatch.
- Areas closed to fishing to protect sensitive fish populations and habitats.
- Annual catch limits are in place to prevent overfishing, and there are measures to respond if those limits are exceeded (closing the fishery in season if harvests are projected to exceed the limit).
Vermilion snapper in the Caribbean is managed in a complex along with several other snapper species. This group is referred to as “Caribbean snapper unit 1”
- Fishing with pots, traps, bottom longlines, gillnets, or trammel nets is prohibited year-round in certain areas to reduce any adverse fishing impacts in federal waters.
- Seasonal closure from October 1 through December 31 to protect the species during spawning.
- Annual catch limits and accountability measures for Snapper Unit 1 have been implemented to prevent overfishing.
Commercial fishermen brought more than 4 million pounds of vermilion snapper to port in 2011. More than a third of this was harvested off the west coast of Florida.
The 2011 commercial harvest of vermilion snapper was valued at more than $11 million.
Data on imports and exports do not differentiate between different species of snapper and grouper. In general, imported snappers and groupers are dominant in the U.S. market, with imports far exceeding the amount supplied by U.S. commercial fisheries.
Vermilion snapper are also a popular catch for recreational fishermen. In all areas, managers have established annual catch limits for vermilion snapper, as well as measures to respond if these catch limits are exceeded. In the South Atlantic, there's a limit on how many vermilion snapper a fisherman can catch per day as well as a limit on the minimum size that can be caught. The recreational fishing season is closed from November through the end of March.
In the Gulf of Mexico, there's also a limit on how many vermilion snapper a fisherman can catch per day (as part of the reef fish aggregate bag limit) as well as a limit on the minimum size that can be caught.
In the Caribbean, there's a limit on the amount of vermilion snapper a fishermen or vessel can land per day, within the aggregate bag limit including snapper, grouper, and parrotfish.
Vermilion snapper is a lean fish with a mild, sweet flavor. The flesh has a medium-firm texture with medium flakes.
Year-round, with peaks from August through November
Snapper is low in saturated fat and sodium and is a very good source of protein.
|Serving Weight||100 g (raw)|
|Fat, total||1.34 g|
|Saturated fatty acids, total||0.285 g|
|Sugars, total||0 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||0 g|
Vermillion Snapper Table of Nutrition