Epinephelus aeneus 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus aeneus (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English White Grouper
French Mérou Blanc
Spanish Cherna De Ley
Cherna aenea Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817
Perca robusta Couch, 1832
Serranus aeneus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2014. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 27 August 2014. Available at: http://researcharchive.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp. (Accessed: 27 August 2014).
Taxonomic Notes: Perca robusta (Couch, 1832) was listed as a synonym of “Epinephelus guaza” (= E. marginatus) by Smith (1971), but Heemstra (1991) considered this species a synonym of E. aeneus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-06-25
Assessor(s): Craig, M.T.
Reviewer(s): Allen, D.J., Kemp, J.R. & Pollard, D.
Contributor(s): Sadovy, Y., Smith, J. & Rhodes, K.
European regional assessment: Data Deficient (DD)

In the European region the species is found in the Mediterranean Sea and along the Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain, with its presence in Macaronesia (the Canary Islands and Cape Verde) uncertain. While there is some evidence of decline in the population from FAO landings data, as well as a perceived threat from fishing pressure, more information on its abundance in the European region is necessary, and it is considered as Data Deficient at present.

Estimates of fishing effort from European ports, specifically Greece, are urgently needed to assess the noted declines in FAO landings. Given the noted fishing pressure throughout the Mediterranean Sea, this species should be a priority for data acquisition with the European region.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:In European waters the species is found in the Mediterranean Sea and along the Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain. It is found throughout much of the Mediterranean except north of 44°N in the Adriatic Sea and it is absent from central Mediterranean coast of Spain to central Italy. Its global range extends along the west coast of Africa to southern Angola, including the islands of the Gulf of Guinea. The records from the Canary Islands (Spain) and Cape Verde are unsubstantiated (Heemstra and Randall 1993). Glamuzina et al. (2000) suggested that the fish is in the process of colonisation of new areas in the northern Mediterranean and Adriatic.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); Gibraltar; Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sicilia); Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Montenegro; Morocco; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Spain (Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Lower depth limit (metres):200
Range Map:132722-1

Population [top]

Population:In the European region, FAO (2014) reported landings of E. aeneus from 1958-2011 show peak landings in 1968 (2,100 mt). The landings were erratic with an overall precipitous decline until the early 1980s (1984 c. three generations = 593 tonnes), where they continued on a steady decline, until in 2011 just 23 mt were landed (FAO 2014; Fishstat J, global capture production, European countries only), a decline of 96%. However, capture data including west African countries show a significant increase in captures. Nearly all landings reported to FAO (2014) were from Israel (estimated), with smaller contributions from Portugal and Greece. With no estimate of fishing effort, it is difficult to pinpoint exact causes of the declines, however the large reduction in landings in indicative of overall population reduction.

Bouain et al. (1983) stated that E. aeneus comprised 90% of the landings of fish in Sfax in Tunisia. These data do not appear in FAO landings so are either unreported or unreliable. Akyol et al. (2007) reported on the small-scale longline fishery of Gökova Bay (Turkey) based on landings from September 2002 to August 2003 (vessels six to nine metres in length). During this period, E. aeneus represented the highest landings by weight (41%) for a total landing of 106.1 kg from 187 individuals. The minimum length of a landed individual was 18.6 cm, and the maximum was 71 cm with a mean of 31.2 cm. The minimum weight for an individual landed was 0.07 kg and the maximum was 3.7 kg, with a mean of 0.37 kg. Akyol et al. (2007) also report that 50% of groupers caught (presumably by the longline fishery and discarded prior to landing) are under 30 cm, the stated size limit in Turkey.

Nearly all information on the population status of E. aeneus has been gathered from African nations where they are highly exploited, with little information available for areas where this species occurs within the European region. Epinephelus aeneus was previously an abundant species, but has declined significantly in many parts of its range. In Tunisia, more than 90% of female E. aeneus collected from 1970-1973 were sized three to nine kilograms (Bruslé and Bruslé 1976).

In the 1950s, E. aeneus was abundant along the Atlantic coast of Morocco (Furnestin et al. 1958). On the basis of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and effort of maximization calculated from fishery data, Gascuel and Ménar (1997) classified E. aeneus in Senegal as an over-exploited species. Froese (2004) suggested that the stock of E. aeneus in Senegal is overfished based on three simple indicators (percentages of mature fish in catch, specimens with optimum length in catch and ‘mega-spawners’ in catch. Glamuzina and Skaramuca (1999) described E. aeneus as very frequently found in African-Mediterranean waters, but significantly rare in central areas, and not found in northern regions of the Mediterranean.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
The adults of E. aeneus occur on rocky or mud-sand bottom up to depths of 200 m, while juveniles have been taken in coastal lagoons and estuaries (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

Length and growth
Ezzat et al. (1981) revealed a linear relationship between total length (L) and scale radius (S): L = 0.1217+5.4420S.

Based on 104 E. aeneus collected from Gulf of Gabès in Tunisia, the von Bertalanffy growth equation was SL (cm) = 204.34 (1-e(-0.039(Age+0.767)) (Bouain 1986).

In the west African waters, Longhurst (1960) found that its diet comprises of fishes (58%), stomatopods (21%), crabs (10%), and cephalopods (10%). The examination of commercially-caught specimens along the Senegalese shore, stomach contents of E. aeneus (400 to 900 mm TL; n=161) suggested that Sardinella aurita and Octopus vulgaris were the preferential and accessory prey during the cold season, respectively. During the warm season, teleosts were abundantly ingested while molluscs (esp. Sepia officinalis) as an accessory prey with the crustacean Callinectes amincola be an occasional prey in the stomach of E. aeneus (Diatta et al. 2003).

Epinephelus aeneus is a protogynous hermaphrodite with females maturing first at 50 to 60 cm TL and weighing about three kilograms for Tunisian fish. Most females change sex at about nine kilograms, but smaller males (three to five kilograms) are occasionally found (Bruslé 1985).

Based on histological examination off the ovaries, Bouain and Siau (1983) suggested that E. aeneus spawns in June and July along southeast Tunisian seashores.

The total potential fecundity was estimated to range from 789,436 ova in a 44 cm SL fish of 2.2 kg to 12,589,242 ova in a 87 cm SL fish of 12.6 kg (Bruslé 1985). Vadiya (1984) estimated “absolute fecundity” of a 93.5 cm, 8.6 kg E. aeneus in the southeastern Mediterranean at 3,873,271 ova.

Bouain and Siau (1983) estimated the total potential fecundities of a 43.5 cm SL and 87 cm SL E. aeneus from southeastern Tunisian waters were 789,436 and 12,589,242 ripe oocytes, respectively.

750,000 to 1,200,000 eggs were produced by natural spawning in each of the five experiments (four to five females and three to four males) in captivity, with an average of 80.2% of fertilization rate (Gorshkova et al. 2002).

Bouain et al. (1983) found that the largest fish of the Tunisian population was 115 cm TL, 25 kg, and was estimated to be 17 years old; females mature at five to seven years (1.5 to 3.0 kg, 50 to 60 cm TL) and sex change occurs at 10 to 13 years (six to 15 kg, 80 to 110 cm TL).

Cury and Worms (1982) suggested a seasonal migratory behaviour of E. aeneus from Mauritania to Senegal. Cury and Roy (1988) noted that E. aeneus migrate and colonize protective areas from Mauritania to Senegal because of the onset of Senegalese upwelling and relaxation of the upwelling off northern Mauritania. Glamuzina et al. (2000) suggested that E. aeneus is the process of colonization of new areas in the northern Mediterranean and Adriatic.
Systems:Freshwater; Marine
Generation Length (years):<10years
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is an important species in fisheries in the region, with a high market value and its aquaculture potential is being investigated (Cnaani et al. 2012). It is also found in subsistence fisheries.

Gorshkova et al. (2002) suggested that broodstock management and larval culture seem to be the main deterrents for successful domestication of E. aeneus. Glamuzina and Skaramuca (1999) noted that juvenile E. aeneus (about 200 g) were adapted to aquarium conditions in Dubrovnik. Particularly good results from the aquaculture of the species have been achieved in Israel (Hassin et al. 1997).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat to E. aeneus is overfishing by various methods from artisanal to industrial. It is highly esteemed in the market of West Africa (Maigret and Ly 1986) and typically caught with hook-and-line and in trawls (Heemstra and Randall 1993). It is consumed as food with considerable economic importance in fisheries of the Mediterranean and the west coast of Africa (Heemstra and Randall 1993). Epinephelus aeneus played an important role on the fish market in Senegal, mainly supplies by artisanal fishing. Fresh E. aeneus was produced in industrial scale and for export (Cury and Worms 1982). Cury and Worms (1982) recorded that E. aeneus only comprised a small amount in weight (83,557 kg, 3.7% of the total landing in Saint-Louis and 439,803 kg, 4.3% of the total in Kayar) but a relatively high monetary value of 11% and 17.6% of the total, respectively in 1980.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently no conservation or management initiatives for this species. It occurs in a few marine protected areas within its range. The species was assessed as Near Threatened in 2008 both globally and for the Mediterranean region (Thierry et al. 2008).

Citation: Craig, M.T. 2015. Epinephelus aeneus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T132722A44902814. . Downloaded on 22 November 2017.
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