Reproductive characteristics of Red Snapper Lutjanus campechanus on artificial reefs in different jurisdictions
Regional Studies in Marine Science
Reproductive activity of Red Snapper Lutjanus campechanus (Poey, 1860) at artificial reefs (ARs) are only recently being investigated. Yet, the management of the fishery differs on a regional basis with state and federal jurisdictions, and reproductive differences among regions have not been investigated. To compare the reproductive activity of L. campechanus among state (inshore) and federal (offshore) jurisdictions, individuals were collected in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico from four ARs on a quarterly basis for 2 yrs. Inshore sites exhibited fishing pressure year round whereas offshore sites only had fishing season open during a few months of summer. Collected individuals were measured for weight and length, then aged, sexed, and reproductive phase identified using the following metrics: resting, spawning capable, actively spawning, and regressing. Individuals in all reproductive phases were collected at three of the four sites. Spawning season was observed from April to September, with June identified as the induction of the peak spawning period. Hydrated oocytes were observed, which indicated imminent spawning within 12 h. Although 79% of female L. campechanus at all sites combined were mature based on reproductive phase, most fish were small, young, and inshore sites only made up 12% of the mature females. Several individuals were mature at offshore sites compared to only a few at inshore sites, yet fishing pressure was higher at inshore sites. We suggest that L. campechanus were spawning capable and actively spawning when those individuals were several years of age, but younger, barely mature individuals comprised the majority. Thus, L. campechanus include ARs in their life cycle and directly spawn on state and federal ARs when given enough time to achieve reproductive maturity. However, fisheries management should consider enforcing higher restrictions depending on the jurisdiction to allow individuals to mature and spawn before capture in both state and federal jurisdictions.
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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department