Atlantic Tripletail

Annual Mortality of Atlantic Tripletail in Coastal Georgia and Florida: Implications for Managing the Recreational Fishery

AJ Cummins | C Kalinowsky | RB Chandler | DL Peterson | AG Fox

The Atlantic Tripletail Lobotes surinamensis supports a popular recreational fishery along the Atlantic coast of Georgia and Florida; however, effective management of the fishery has been hampered by a lack of current data regarding fisheries impacts on the population. The primary objective of this study was to quantify annual mortality for the Tripletail population inhabiting the Atlantic coast of Georgia and Florida, as one an important indicator of the fishery’s sustainability. During the summers of 2009 through 2014, at least 10 Tripletail were captured via hook and line sampling in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia and tagged with acoustic transmitters. The survival and movements of tagged fish were monitored by an acoustic array consisting of 196 stationary receivers deployed by FACT Network researchers throughout the coastal marine waters of Georgia and Florida. Over the 5 years of the study, we released a total of 59 tagged fish, yielding a total of more than 500,000 valid detections. Using spatial mark-recapture modeling, we estimated the mean annual apparent mortality of these fish at 63.6 % (95% CI ± 0.381-0.819) across all study years. Although comparable estimates of annual mortality in other Tripletail populations are not currently available, the annual mortality estimates from this study were comparable to those of several other nearshore marine sportfishes. Based on recent studies of Tripletail reproduction however, our results also suggest that only a small % of females are currently surviving long enough to reproduce. Additional studies are needed to evaluate potential fishery benefits of increasing current minimum size.