Where Are the Red Snapper Juveniles? Disparate Knowledge of Red Snapper Ecology in Gulf of Mexico Versus Southeastern US Atlantic Ocean Waters

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 11:00 AM
Conway (The Marriott Little Rock)
Ryan Rindone , Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, Tampa, FL
Todd Kellison , Southeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, Beaufort, NC
Stephen A. Bortone , Osprey Aquatic Sciences, Inc., Tampa, FL
Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) populations support (or have supported) important commercial and recreational fisheries in Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and southeastern US Atlantic Ocean (SEUS) waters.  Red snapper populations are genetically indistinct between the two regions, indicating recent or ongoing population connectivity.  Relative to GOM waters, there is a dearth of information on red snapper in SEUS waters, where the fishery has been closed since 2010 to address historical overexploitation.  We assessed the disparity in knowledge between the two regions by comparing the number of region-specific red snapper-focused peer-reviewed publications, 94% of which were regionally focused in GOM waters.  We then assessed information on juvenile (< 150 mm total length) red snapper in SEUS waters.  No publications or reports documenting the occurrence of juvenile red snapper in SEUS waters were identified.  A comprehensive search of fishery-independent survey databases (totaling >75,000 individual gear deployments) and institutional collections identified only 132 records of juvenile red snapper from SEUS waters.  These results highlight the need for additional information on red snapper in SEUS waters to address questions regarding recruitment to the SEUS stock, population connectivity between GOM and SEUS regions and, in general, to support fishery assessment and management in SEUS waters.