S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Facilitating Research for Federally-Managed Fish Stocks

The Consortium is participating in two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant programs to better understand and assess the stocks of greater amberjack and red snapper.

A cooperative research program developed by the NOAA National Sea Grant Office and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intends to generate an absolute abundance estimate for the entire South Atlantic red snapper stock.

Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) is a highly-sought commercial and recreational species, and its production is dependent on management decisions based on stock assessments. Historical overharvesting has resulted in a depleted population in the South Atlantic, although current management measures are expected to promote a full recovery by 2032. Some controversy surrounds the current stock assessment for South Atlantic red snapper, particularly with regard to the accuracy of population estimates.

To achieve an absolute abundance estimate, the Consortium, in serving as the lead principle investigator for this research program, has convened a Steering Committee of scientists, fishery managers, and industry representatives. The Steering Committee developed the research objectives and parameters. The Consortium is managing a $1,575,000 budget for this project, and the research will be implemented from March 8, 2021 to August 31, 2025.

Additionally, the Consortium is playing a supporting role in assessing the stock of greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili) in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic under a $10 million grant to be administered by NOAA NMFS and the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program. The goal of this research program is to develop additional data sources, assessment approaches, and knowledge to improve agency and agency-independent estimates of the abundance of greater amberjack throughout the species’ range. Specific approaches will be informed by stakeholder input to provide critical knowledge gaps and may include techniques such as a tagging program, genetic assessment of South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico stock connectivity, and reproductive dynamics studies.

The Consortium helped conduct a pre-assessment by interviewing stakeholders—primarily recreational, charter, and commercial fishing industry members—to determine attitudes and perceptions of greater amberjack science and management in South Carolina. The Consortium also will assist in a visioning workshop which will convene stakeholders to formally advise the research priorities. Research will be implemented from July 2021 to July 2023.