All About Florida Keys Fishing & Key West Fishing
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    Vermilion snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens

    Vermilion snapper occur over shelf and upper-slope waters of the western Atlantic Ocean
    from Cape Hatteras south through southeastern Brazil, as well as Bermuda, the Gulf of
    Mexico, and the West Indies. Bagley et al. (1999) found that genetic differentiation of
    vermilion snapper collected in southeastern U.S. waters and the Gulf of Mexico was so
    small it is likely that only one stock of vermilion snapper occurs in U.S. waters. Individual
    vermilion snapper can spawn several times during the period April through September;
    although, spawning can occur yearround in tropical Caribbean waters (Goodyear and
    Schirippa 1991). Zhao and McGovern (1997) and Zhao et al. (1997) documented a
    downward shift in size and age at maturity between 1979 and 1981 and again during
    1985–1987. During the most recent period, the median total length (TL) at maturity was 5.5
    inches for males and 5.9 inches for females. All males and nearly halfof the females in the
    samples collected by Zhao and McGovern (1997) were mature at age 1.
    However, recent work on vermilion snapper growth in the U.S. South Atlantic region
    suggests the findings of Zhao et al. (1997) may reflect changes in sampling gear between
    1979 and 1981 and again between 1985 and 1987 rather than actual changes in growth
    (Potts et al. 1998). Growth of vermilion snapper is highly variable, but expected lengths at
    age are 8.3–8.6 inches TL at age 1 and only 11.4–19.5 inches at age 10 (Table 1; Hood
    and Johnson 1999; Potts et al. 1998). Maximum reported age of vermilion snapper is 13
    years (Barber 1989).

    Total landings of vermilion snapper in Florida during 2005 were 1,359,687 pounds. The
    majority of the landings were made on the gulf coast (86% by weight). The commercial
    fishery landed 80% of the statewide landings made in 2005. The highest commercial
    landings by county occurred in Escambia, Okaloosa, and Bay Counties in the Panhandle
    and in Duval County on the Atlantic coast (Fig. 1). Recreational landings were also
    greatest in the western Panhandle from Escambia to Dixie County (Fig. 2). The 2005 total
    landings of vermilion snapper were 2% lower than the average landings in the previous
    five years (2000-2004) and were 6% lower than the 1982–2005 historical average
    landings (Fig. 3). Since 1988, Atlantic coast landings have fluctuated without trend
    between 0.13 and 0.34 million pounds; however, total landings since 2000 have averaged
    about 0.31 million pounds (Fig. 3). In 1993, gulf coast total landings peaked at 2.06 million
    pounds, afterward declining to about 0.8 million pounds in 2000. Since then, gulf coast
    landings have increased, averaging about 1.2-1.3 million pounds from 2002-2005.
    Commercial catch rates on both coasts decreased during 1995–1998, after which catch
    rates increased through 2001, then fell again through 2005 to about 15 pounds per trip
    (Fig. 4).
    The catch rate on the gulf coast have been slowly increasing during 2001-2005 (Fig. 5).
    total-catch rates estimates for Atlantic coast recreational fishers come from low numbers of
    intercepts, are imprecise, and don’t show a discernable change between 1982 and 2005
Upper Keys Fishing
Marine Fisheries News
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Status and Trends 2007 Report
Florida’s Inshore and Nearshore Species
by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
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