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    Greater amberjack, Seriola dumerili

    Greater amberjack is a reef-associated species with circumglobal distribution in warmt emperate
    waters. In the western Atlantic, it ranges from Nova Scotia to Brazil, including
    Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean (Manooch 1984). Analysis of nearly 35 years
    of tag-recapture data showed that some greater amberjack are resident along Florida's gulf or
    Atlantic coasts (Cummings and McClellan 1996). In winter, others move into Florida’s Atlantic
    waters from the South Atlantic Bight, possibly in preparation for spring spawning (McClellan
    and Cummings 1997). Based on mtDNA haplotype frequency data, two subpopulations of
    greater amberjack were hypothesized: one in the northern Gulf of Mexico and another along
    southwest Florida and the U.S. South Atlantic region (Gold and Richardson 1998a). In these
    groups, spawning occurs from March through July. Females first mature to spawn at ages 2 or 3
    when about 34” total length (Manooch 1984). Burch (1979) found that females grow more
    rapidly and to a larger size and can reach an older age than males. However, Burch’s size-at-age
    data were based on scale readings; the readings implied sizes at age that were much larger than
    the sizes-at-age reported for fish aged using otoliths. Thompson et al. (1999) found that all
    amberjack older than age 9 were females, but growth did not differ between sexes. Greater
    amberjack grow quickly (Table 1): fish of undetermined sex grew from 13.2” fork length (FL) at
    age 1 to over 43.1” by age 10 in the U.S. South Atlantic (Table 1; Manooch and Potts 1997a). In
    the Gulf of Mexico, sizes varied from 14.6” to 19.7” FL at age 1, and fish grew as large as
    39.9”–62.4” FL by age 10 (Manooch and Potts 1997b; Schirripa and Burns 1997; Thompson et
    al. 1999). Maximum life span is at least 17 years (Manooch and Potts 1997a).

    In 2005, total statewide landings of amberjack were 2,658,845 pounds, of which both
    recreational and commercial fisheries contributed equally. Approximately 75% of the statewide
    landings were from the gulf coast of Florida in 2005. Commercial landings on the Atlantic coast
    in 2005 were highest in Duval, St. Johns, Volusia, Palm Beach and Dade Counties. On the gulf
    coast in 2005, commercial landings of greater than 10,000 pounds were reported in Monroe,
    Pinellas and Bay Counties, but high landings were also recorded in Manatee, Pasco, Franklin,
    Okaloosa and Escambia Counties (Fig. 1). Recreational landings were evenly distributed along
    the Atlantic and gulf coasts of peninsular Florida (Fig. 2). In Florida, total annual landings of
    amberjack declined sharply between the early 1990s and late 1990s before rebounding somewhat
    during the early 2000s (Fig. 3). The 2005 total landings were 14% lower than the average annual
    landings in the previous five years (2000–2004) and 38% lower than the historical average
    landings (1982–2005). Much of the decline during the early 1990s may be attributed to size or
    bag limits and seasonal closures implemented then.
    Standardized commercial catch rates on the Atlantic coast have peaked at about 57
    pounds per trip in 1994 but have averaged only about 41 pounds per trip during 2001-2005 (Fig.
    4). Commercial catch rates on the gulf coast have held steady at about 45 pounds per trip
    between 2000 and 2003, but increased a bit since 2004 (Fig. 5). Total catch rates for recreational
    anglers have fluctuated without any apparent long-term trend on either coast (Figs. 6, 7).
    The status of the greater amberjack in the Northwest Atlantic is determined separately for
    the stock off the Southeast U.S. Atlantic coast and for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. During the
    1998-1999 fishing year, the stock off the Atlantic coast was classified as most likely not
    overfished (Legault and Turner 1999). A tuned VPA (ADAPT) model generated SPR values in
    the range of 0.3 to 0.8 for 1998–1999 depending on the natural mortality rate and the maturity
    schedule selected. The Gulf of Mexico stock of greater amberjack was not overfished in 1993–
    1994, but it was probably overfished during 1998 (Cummings and McClellan 1998; Turner et al.
    2000). Strict regulations were applied to the Gulf of Mexico fishery beginning in 1998;
    recreational fishing restrictions consist of a 1-fish bag limit and a 28” minimum size, while
    commercial fishing restrictions include a minimum size limit of 36” and a closed season between
    March and May. On the Atlantic coast of Florida, regulations are similar to the gulf, except for a
    closed season in April and a commercial quota limit in federal waters. Commercial permits are
    required to harvest greater amberjack in federal waters, and a restricted species endorsement is
    required to commercially harvest greater amberjack in Florida State waters. Despite these
    restrictions, the SEDAR 09 findings for the gulf greater amberjack stock were that overfishing
    had continued and that the stock was overfished in 2005 (SEDAR 09 Assessment Panel 2006;
    Haddon 2006). These findings were based on a simple surplus production model (ASPIC).
Download complete report
(including figures)
Status and Trends 2007 Report
Florida’s Inshore and Nearshore Species
by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
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