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Commercial red grouper fishing contributes to Gulf regional economy

By: Ben Posadas / Published: May 31,  2018

According to NOAA Fisheries, the red grouper (Epinephelus morio) fishery in the Gulf of Mexico is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

The species’ range extends from New England south to Florida and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Like other grouper species, red grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites: they begin their lives as females, and some transform into males when they reach the ages of 7-15.

Figure 1. Red grouper (Epinephelus morio). Also known as Grouper, Cherna americana, and Negre. Source: FishWatch (https://www.fishwatch.gov/profiles/red-grouper).
Figure 1. Red grouper (Epinephelus morio). Also known as Grouper, Cherna americana, and Negre. Source: FishWatch (https://www.fishwatch.gov/profiles/red-grouper).

Commercial fishermen must have a permit to fish, land or sell red grouper. Managers limit the number of available permits to control the number of fishermen harvesting red grouper. There are annual catch limits for red grouper for the commercial and recreational fisheries.

Commercial Landings

Figure 2 shows the commercial landings of red grouper from the Gulf of Mexico Region. Since 2011, the Gulf states supplied 98.3 percent of the entire red grouper domestic landings averaging 5.8 million pounds and valued at $17.7 million annually. Florida West Coast is the largest producing state in the Gulf of Mexico, supplying 98.3 percent of all domestically-caught red grouper and almost all of the landings in the Gulf of Mexico region.

Figure 2. Annual commercial landings of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico Region. Source of raw data: NOAA Fisheries (http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/).
Figure 2. Annual commercial landings of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico Region. Source of raw data: NOAA Fisheries (http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/).

In 2016, the Gulf-wide commercial landings of red grouper reached 5.3 million pounds. This fish species was caught year-round with most of the landings occurring during the fall-spring months (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Monthly distribution of commercial landings of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico Region in 2016. Source of raw data: NOAA Fisheries (http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/).
Figure 3. Monthly distribution of commercial landings of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico Region in 2016. Source of raw data: NOAA Fisheries (http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/).

Economic Contributions  

The economic contribution an industry makes locally, region-wide, nation-wide or globally is crucial information in making private investment decisions, formulating government policy, and developing research and extension programs for the fishing industry. The IMPLAN (http://implan.com/) software and the 2013 input-output data for the five Gulf states were used to estimate the economic contribution of commercial fishing to the Gulf of Mexico regional economy in 2016. The economic analysis used sector 17 or commercial fishing of the 2013 IMPLAN input-output data.

The IMPLAN economic model estimates of the economic contributions regarding output or sales, employment or jobs, labor income, value added and tax revenues. The income, value-added and output contributions are expressed in dollars for the year specified by the user. Output or sales are the gross sales by businesses within the economic region affected by an activity. Labor income includes personal income including wages and salaries and proprietors’ income or income from self-employment. Employment contributions are expressed in terms of a mix of both full-time and part-time jobs. Value-added is the contribution made to the value of seafood products at each stage of harvesting, processing, and distribution.

The total economic contribution is the sum of direct, indirect and induced effects. The direct effects express the economic impacts in the sector in which the expenditure was initially made. Indirect effects result from changes in the economic activity of other industrial sectors which supply goods or services to the commercial fishing industry. Induced effects are the product of personal consumption expenditures by industry employees.

The annual commercial dockside values of red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico Region in 2016 reached $17.8 million, which was 0.9% more than the yearly average dockside values since 2011. The total output contribution of commercial red grouper fishing in 2016 amounted to $34 million (Figure 4). The red grouper commercial fishing created 473 jobs and generated labor income amounting to $12.2 million in the Gulf regional economy.

Figure 4. The total economic contribution includes direct, indirect and induced effects estimated by using 2016 annual landing values and 2013 IMPLAN data. The local purchases percentage was set to 100%. The number of jobs is rounded off.
Figure 4. The total economic contribution includes direct, indirect and induced effects estimated by using 2016 annual landing values and 2013 IMPLAN data. The local purchases percentage was set to 100%. The number of jobs is rounded off.

The red grouper commercial fishing industry generates annual tax revenues for the Gulf states and the U.S. federal government. About $2.1 million was estimated to have been paid by households and businesses in 2016 to the federal government as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profit tax, and personal income tax. The Gulf states were expected to have collected taxes from households and businesses in 2016 amounting to $1.0 million as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profits tax and personal tax.

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