Benefits of the Red Drum Fishery

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Red Drum populations along the east coast and gulf coast of the United States, have drastically diminished over the past thirty years. The cause of the drop in numbers of this beautiful fish is primarily due to the overfishing from both recreational and commercial fishermen. Federal and State governments have implemented measures in to prevent this fish from being targeted, and to make sure that the population numbers increase. Not only is this fish important for the fisheries in which they thrive, but they also contribute to the biodiversity of a number of different ecosystems.

The Red Drum (Scianops Ocellatus) gets their name from the drumming sound they make. [3] Most of these fish, depending on where they are caught, have an orange color to them and typically have at least one black spot on their tail. Depending on where you are at, red drum are also called redfish, channel bass, spottail, red bass, and reds. [3] Red drum have been caught as far north as Massachusetts, though they typically don’t migrate that far north. In fact, the Chesapeake Bay is normally the farthest north that they can be found, and they are caught as far south—in the United States—as the gulf coast of Texas. [1]

Red drum spawn between late summer and fall. Females lay their eggs in estuaries and inlets during the night. A single female can produce up to two million eggs per season. The eggs will then hatch anywhere from 24-36 hours after being spawned. As the fish matures, the area in which it lives will change, as will its feeding habits. A male is considered to be mature once it reaches anywhere between 20-28 inches. By this time, the fish is between one and four years of age. Females are considered to be mature when they are between 31-36 inches. A female between these lengths is typically between three-six years old. Red drum can grow upwards of 60-inches, which equates to a 90-pound fish. [1]

As a juvenile, red drum eat zooplankton and invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp. A juvenile will spend the first part of its life in estuarial waters, but when they get older they typically move towards the ocean. When red drum move to the ocean, their feeding habits change slightly, to satisfy their hunger. Not only will they eat zooplankton, but they also begin to target larger invertebrates as well as fish. [2]

The red drum fishery encompasses both recreational and commercial methods.

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