Red Hind (Epinephelus guttatus) are fished commercially, recreationally, and for subsistence in the Caribbean. Red Hind are of particular management interest as the species has historically comprised the majority of fin fish landings in the US Virgin Islands and are the most commonly landed species of grouper in Puerto Rico. Our study aims to provide fishery managers with current estimates of population structure, movement, and vital rates to inform stock assessment and fisheries management. Our specific objectives are to (1) supplement fishery-independent information on length distribution, (2) provide additional information on growth rates, (3) inform our understanding of stock structure, (4) provide additional information on reproductive parameters, including size and age at maturity, and (5) provide refined information on population survival rates. We will fish for Red Hind during peak aggregation at a spawning site off the southwest side of St. Thomas. We will tag each fish with a uniquely-numbered conventional streamer tag, measure fish total length, collect a blood sample (to later determine sex), and then release each fish at the spawning site. Population movement and survival rates will be estimated based on information from recovered and reported tags during normal annual harvest after the fish leave the spawning aggregation site. This study will provide valuable demographic information regarding the Red Hind population twenty years after the spawning aggregation site was closed to all fishing during spawning activity.
Claire Rosemond, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University
Scott A. Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University