Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Whitespotted Grouper, Garrupa, Ocellated Rock-cod, Rock Cod, Small-spotted Rock Cod, Snowy Grouper, Vieille Cuisinier, White-spotted Grouper, White-spotted Reef-cod, White-spotted Rockcod, Whitespotted Rockcod
French Merou A Taches Blanches, Merou Taches Blanches
Spanish Mero Nevero
Epinephelus caeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)
Epinephelus caerulopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)
Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)
Epinephelus hoevenii (Bleeker, 1849)
Epinephelus ongus (non Bloch, 1790)
Epinephelus summana (non Forsskal, 1775)
Holocentrus coeruleopunctatus Bloch, 1790
Serranus alboguttatus Valenciennes, 1828
Serranus dermochirus Valenciennes, 1830
Serranus flavoguttatus Peters, 1855
Serranus hoevenii Bleeker, 1849
Serranus kunhardtii Bleeker, 1851

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Rhodes, K., Russell, B., Kulbicki, M., Yeeting, B., Fennessy, S. & Myers, R.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)
Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus is widespread and ranges from common to rare within its range. Although the species is fished throughout its range, there is no indication of species declines and it occurs in a number of marine protected areas, therefore the species is currently listed as Least Concern. The species is also shown to be a relatively large component of artisinal fisheries and the live reef food fish trade in some areas. Although the species is a target of both artisanal and commercial fisheries, there is a paucity of information on its life history.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:General
Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific and ranges from East Africa south to East London (South Africa) and east to Tonga. It is unknown from the Red Sea, but it does occur in the Persian Gulf. A record from northwestern Australia is doubtful. It is closely related to, and is often confused with, three other white-spotted species: Epinephelus ongus, Epinephelus summana, and Epinephelus corallicola.

Seychelles (Pittman 1996), Kuwait (Faraj and Al Tamimi 2003), Australia (Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland) (Pollard pers. comm.), Indonesia (Sadovy and Liu 2004), Philippines (Russ and Alcala 1996), Thailand (Allen and Stone 2005), Myanmar (Heemstra and Randall 1993), Tonga (Randall et al. 2003), Maldives (Sluka and Reichenbach 1996), New Caledonia (Wantiez and Thollot 2000), Indonesia (Allen pers. comm.) (including Irian Jaya, and all the major island groups), Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk, Kapingamaringi, Ant), Wake Island, Bonin, Japan (Ryuku, Yaeyama, Kashiwa-jima, Ogasawara) (Myers distributional database 2006, Rhodes and Tupper 2007), Taiwan and Pecadores Islands (Kulbicki pers. comm.), Solomon Islands (Allen pers. comm.), Papua New Guinea (Allen pers. comm.), southern and eastern Africa, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius, Lakshadweep and western India, Sri Lanka, the Nicobar Islands, Vanuatu, Loyalty Islands, Gilbert Islands, and Tuvalu.
Countries occurrence:
Australia; Bahrain; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; China; Comoros; Fiji; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati; Kuwait; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Oman; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Qatar; Réunion; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tuvalu; United Arab Emirates; Vanuatu; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus is a widespread and occasionally observed species, but never abundant. No information on population trends are available.

Fisheries-dependent data
There is little published information on its population status. The species forms part of artisanal, small-scale (e.g., Rhodes and Tupper 2007) and large-scale commercial fisheries in much of its range and is targeted by the live reef food fish trade (LRFFT) (Sadovy and Liu 2006). It is considered of moderate value within the LRFFT relative to other groupers. In Mozambique, the species provides little to commercialo catch (Instituto de Investigao Pesquiera, Maputo). Rhodes and Tupper (2007) found that the species contributed 13.2% to overall catch volume (as weight) of serranids in Pohnpei (Micronesia), although it was rarely observed during a recent REA (Allen and Stone 2005). E. coeruleopunctatus was more common in catch from outside versus inside reef locales in Pohnpei (Rhodes and Tupper 2007). Indications of spawning aggregation formation were suggested (but not confirmed); targeting by the LRFFT in Indonesia (Sadovy and Liu 2004) and possibly other locales where the fishery is active. In New Caledonia, represents only 0.6% of experimental catch (IRD database). Simiilar densities in Fiji and New Caledonia are reported (50 fish/sq km of reef). Low levels of catch in the line and trap fishery in Mozambique (FRI unpub. data). No males recorded in New Caledonia experimental fishing in mangrove areas and nearshore areas. Mangrove catch was dominated by juveniles (IRD database).

Fisheries-independent data
During dive surveys, along sections of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, abundances were relatively low in comparison to other serranids (Pears 2005); also in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (Allen, unpub. data). Rare in the Seychelles and along the Great Barrier Reef (<1/1,000 m²) (Pears 2005).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus is a reef-associated species that occurs in rocky or coral-rich areas of deep lagoons, channels and outer reef slopes; usually in or near caves. It is often found in greater abundances on fringing and intermediate reefs relative to barrier reefs. Whitespotted grouper occurs along mid-shelf reef slopes (GBR) (Newman et al. 1997). Juveniles are found in mangroves and tide pools. In areas where populations assessments have been conducted, the species appears to be generally rare in most reef areas, but appears to prefer outer reef to lagoon areas. E. coeruleopunctatus is reported to be found in caves (among other reef habitats) along the Queensland portion of the Great Barrier Reef.

Feeds on fish (10 to 15% of its diet) and crustaceans (up to 70% of its diet).

Although the species is fished through much of its range and there are possible indications of spawning aggregation formation and targeting by fisheries, no information is known of its reproductive biology or general life history, including size at sexual maturity, spawning method or size-age relationships.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overfishing
Although Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus appears to make up a relatively minor component of reef fisheries in areas surveyed and is widely distributed within the Indo-Pacific, the species appears vulnerable to overfishing. In areas where the LRFFT operates, spawning aggregations (if they form) may be vulnerable to extirpation, as shown for other aggregating serranids globally when aggregations are targeted. In other areas, the species may be considered vulnerable to overfishing, including by small-scale commercial fishers, such as those typical of developing islands (e.g. Pohnpei and Palau) (e.g., Rhodes and Tupper 2007).

Habitat Loss
Although the species is found on coral reefs, the effects on populations of coral loss from climate change, pollution or reef destruction from physical forces is unknown. The species appears to prefer certain types of corals (branching or tabular forms). The species may also occur in silty areas associated with coral reefs. The species is on the "species of least concern" list for the Northern Territory, Australia.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Some conservation measures are in place regionally for coral reefs (e.g., Great Barrier Reef Marine Park) and also for serranids (e.g., Pohnpei and Palau) that include marine protected areas, size limits prohibitions on SCUBA-based fishing, destructive fishing gears (Dynamite, poisons) and seasonal closures around reproductive periods, although none are specific for Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus. Population increases seen in areas following declaration of marine protected areas in North Caledonia (Wantiez et al. 1997).

Citation: Rhodes, K., Russell, B., Kulbicki, M., Yeeting, B., Fennessy, S. & Myers, R. 2008. Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T132751A3440940. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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