Marine Artificial Reef Research and Development: Integrating Fisheries Management Objectives

A Comparison of Population Dynamics from Red Snapper Associated with Inshore and Offshore Artificial Reefs in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

C. Y. M. Froehlich, A. M. Lee, R. Oquita, C. E. Cintra-Buenrostro, J. D. Shively, and J. B. Shipley


Abstract.—Identifying morphometrics, age composition, and growth of Red Snapper Lutjanus campechanus (Poey, 1860) in the Gulf of Mexico is crucial for management of this valuable species. Red Snapper are highly associated with artificial reefs situated off the coast of Texas. Artificial reefs, two in federal waters (offshore) and two in state waters (inshore), were sampled quarterly from December 2014 through December 2016. Characteristic differences in age and growth patterns at inshore and offshore sites and across sampled sites were compared. Mean ± standard deviation was calculated for total length (TL), weight, and biological age. Red Snapper collected averaged 464.5 ± 92.6 mm in TL, 1.62 ± 1.03 kg, and 3.8 ± 1.5 years. Significant differences in TL, weight, and age were observed across sites but not between inshore and offshore locations. In comparing 12 previous Red Snapper length-at-age (0–25 years) studies across the Gulf of Mexico, results were similar except for two studies significantly different from one another, but none with respect to our study. Our findings suggest that Red Snapper populations are young and restricted to one or two spawning years before capture on artificial reefs. Continued management of fisheries associated with these reefs are necessary to increase the stock and eventually lead to robust and sustainable fisheries.