Snapper, Mutton – U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Longline
Mutton Snapper are found in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil. They are most common in the waters of the Caribbean, Florida and Gulf of Mexico. Adults are typically found inshore, associated with reefs, hard structure, mangroves, and sea grass. Offshore spawning aggregations form from February to June.
In U.S. Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic waters, fishing mortality on Mutton Snapper is relatively low, and abundance is high and has steadily increased since the mid-1990s. Mutton Snapper is jointly managed as a single population by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic fishery management councils.
Mutton Snapper are caught in mixed-species reef fisheries with bottom longlines, handlines and by divers using spears. Approximately half of the overall U.S. catch comes from the Gulf of Mexico longline fishery. The longline fishery incidentally captures overfished blacknose sharks and threatened loggerhead turtles, resulting in potentially severe impacts to these species. Additionally, bottom longlines can cause moderate damage to bottom habitats.