Grouper, Gag – U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Handline
Gag Grouper is found in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to southern Brazil. In U.S. waters, there are two Gag Grouper populations: South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Gag Grouper caught with handlines in the Gulf of Mexico account for 5% of all U.S. grouper catches.
Gag Grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites beginning their lives as females and becoming males as they grow larger. Females typically reach sexual maturity after three years and transition to males by 11 years of age. Gag Grouper abundance in the Gulf of Mexico is low, but fishing on this species has been reduced to a sustainable level and the population is rebuilding.
The handline fisheries that catch Gag Grouper target a range of groupers, snappers, and other fish, and result in bycatch of some depleted species. Handlines have minimal impacts on bottom habitats.