Grouper is considered a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. The fish has firm, lean flesh and a mild flavor. Grouper is available year-round with peak catches in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico occurring during the summer and fall. Grouper is sold fresh and frozen as whole fish, fillets, and steaks. It is sometimes sold as “sea bass,” “mero” or the Hawaiian name “hapu’u”.
Black grouper are found in the Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. Black grouper are found at shallower depths than other groupers. Unlike red grouper, black grouper in the United States is considered to be one stock across both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions. Grouper in generally are fairly long-lived and come together to spawn in large numbers, characteristics that make them vulnerable to fishing pressure. A May 2014 Seafood Watch report stated that according to the most recent stock assessment in 2010, black grouper is not considered overfished.
Habitat impacts ( Wild)
Grouper are caught with hook-and-line gear, including handlines and bottom longline gear, as well as some traps, pots and cast nets. Reef fish and sea turtles risk getting caught in this gear, although there are restrictions in place that limit where the gear can be used. Bottom longline gear can have moderate impacts on the seafloor while handlines have low ecosystem impacts, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Grouper fisheries have high impacts on nontarget species, the Monterey Bay Aquarium reported. Bycatch can include sharks, black sea bass, blueline tilefish, smooth dogfish, giant snake eel, golden tilefish, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, red porgy, red snapper, scamp, speckled hind, vermilion snapper and yellowtail snapper. Loggerhead sea turtles were getting caught in bottom longline gear but that is being addressed with monitoring and a reduction in gear. The black grouper fisheries use dehooking devices and circle hooks to reduce bycatch. Venting tools are also employed to make it easier for reef fish to survive when released.
In the United States, black grouper is considered one stock but managed regionally under separate fishery management plans in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic. Management measures include permits, annual catch limits, fishing quotas, marine protected areas that are closed to fishing, seasonal closures, gear restrictions, minimum size limits, and data reporting requirements. Management in the Gulf of Mexico received a better score than the South Atlantic from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 2014 Seafood Watch report because that area has observer programs, which are lacking in the Atlantic. Overall the report called U.S. black grouper management moderately effective.