Although wreckfish (AKA Stone Bass) are found all along the East Coast, most commercial landings are from the Charleston Bump, a deepwater bank located 80 to 100 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.
A cousin of grouper and sea bass, wreckfish was first harvested by accident in the South Atlantic in the early 1980s. A fisherman was using longline gear to try to recover lost equipment and caught a wreckfish by mistake. The commercial fishery for wreckfish developed a few years later in 1987, with just two vessels landing the species in South Carolina. The fishery grew rapidly, expanding to 25 fishing vessels by 1989 and as many as 80 vessels by 1990. Because scientists knew little about wreckfish, there was concern that this resource could not support high fishing rates. Managers placed a 2-million-pound yearly cap on the amount of wreckfish that could be harvested and closed the fishery from mid-January to mid-April when wreckfish spawn. Additional protocols were later put in place to reduce the number of vessels allowed to hunt these massive beasts from 80 to now only a small handful of family-run operations, further protecting the animal's future.
Wreckfish caught in the U.S. Atlantic is a "Best Choice." The stock is healthy, bycatch and habitat impacts are minimal and the fishery is managed well. Fun fact: Wreckfish may live 30 to 40 years.