Federal fisheries managers announced last Friday that the recreational season for a number of species in the popular porgy family will close on Wednesday, Sept. 17 and not reopen until Jan. 1, 2015.
Porgy species included in the closer are: jolthead, knobbed, whitebone and saucereye progys and scup. They are a part of the reef complex species that also includes gray triggerfish, yellow jack, bar jack, almaco jack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, white grunt, margates and spadefish. Red porgy, also called pinky, pink snapper or silver snapper, is not included in the porgy complex or the reef complex and are managed separately.
The porgy complex is important to headboat operators and charter fishermen who specialize in offshore bottom-fishing. Fishermen are allowed to keep 20 fish per day in aggregate of the reef complex species, and on the average, several of those fish will be porgys.
“I hate this,” said Capt. Butch Foster of Yeah Right Charters in Southport, N.C.. “Losing the porgys for 3 ½ months isn’t bad enough to keep people from chartering to go fishing, but it is another nail in the coffin of offshore bottom-fishing charters. This is another species we have to monitor and release, and no one can tell us where the numbers used to set the catch limits come from.
“We have to tell our fishermen they can’t keep them, but (we) don’t have the reasoning that was used to close the season. I’ve been fishing from Southport for 14 years and have never had a biologist sample my catch.”
The recreational catch limit for the porgy complex is 106,914 pounds annually. It was exceeded in 2013, and the overage was deducted from the 2014 annual catch limit; that’s the reason the fishery is closing early. NOAA Fisheries said reports indicate the 2014 catch will also have some overage, and season is closing as quickly as possible to minimize the overage. The 2014 overage will be deducted from the 2015 annual catch limit.
Commercial harvest of the porgy complex remains open at this time, but is nearing the annual catch limit and will be closed if it reaches the limit.