Recreational Catches of Four Species of Groupers in the Carolina Headboat Fishery

A recreational fishery for semitropical reef fishes has developed over the past 12 years off the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts. About 30 headboats fishing from coastal cities transport anglers to the fishing grounds daily for a fee. The faster vessels regularly fish selected locations on the edge of the Continental Shelf 40 to 50 miles offshore while the slower ones fish coral patches and rocky outcroppings closer inshore. A large part of the catch is composed of four species of grouper: scamp, Mycteroperca phenax; gag, Myderoperca microlepis; speckled hind, Epinephelus drummondhayi; and snowy grouper, Epinephelus nil)catus. Catch and effort statistics indicak that these species can become quickly depleted from fishing sites hy continued heavy fishing pressure. Their alulndance on fishing sites in the area has generally remained high, however, because vessel captains try to spread fishing effort in order not to deplete anyone site. Restocking of depleted sites is slow.

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