Cephalopholis sonnerati 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Cephalopholis sonnerati
Species Authority: (Valenciennes, 1828)
Common Name(s):
English Tomato Hind, Tomato Seabass, Tomato Grouper, Red Coral Cod, Tomato Rockcod, Tomato Rock Cod, Red Rockcod, Tomato Sea Bass, Vieille Ananas
French Merou Tomate, Prude Rouge, Vielle Ananas
Spanish Cherna Pina
Cephalopholis purpureus Fourmanoir, 1966
Cephalopolis sonnerati (Valenciennes, 1828)
Epinephelus janthinopterus Bleeker, 1873
Epinephelus sonnerati Valenciennes, 1928
Epinephelus unicolor Bleeker, 1875
Serranus sonnerati Valenciennes, 1828
Serranus unicolor Lienard, 1874
Serranus zananella Valenciennes, 1928

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Fennessy, S., Min, L. & Russell, B.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)
Cephalopholis sonnerati is a widespread, fairly common species that appears in local markets and the live reef fish trade, although there is no current evidence of population decline. Therefore, this species is considered Least Concern. However, if current levels of exploitation continue unmanaged, this species may be of concern in the future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Cephalopholis sonnerati is widespread within the Indo-Pacific, occurring from east coast of Africa (Djibouti and Socotra (Yemen) to Durban (South Africa)) to the Line Islands, north to southern Japan, and south to southern Queensland (Australia). It is not found at the Chagos Archipelago despite intensive surveys there. The species is not reported from the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf.
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; China; Christmas Island; Comoros; Cook Islands; Fiji; India; Indonesia; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Oman; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):100
Upper depth limit (metres):10
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Cephalopholis sonnerati is a common species throughout its range. There are some indications of population declines due to fisheries in Japan, but no specific information elsewhere. Limited catch data is currently available although it is a widespread, commonly-caught species. Few aspects of their biology have been studied.

Fisheries-dependent data
One of the three commonest groupers caught off northern Somalia (Darar 1994). This species is the third most common grouper (n=108 individuals, 16% of groupers) caught on the North Kenya Banks in the late 1950s (Morgans 1964). Less common (n=11 of 130 groupers) in linefish catches in this region by the mid 1970s (Nzioka 1977). Initially it was the most commonly recorded grouper (60% of all groupers recorded; only percentages available; suspected biased sampling) (Fennessy unpub. data) in commercial line catches from southern Mozambique in the mid-1990s after the fishery rapidly developed following 20 years of light fishing effort owing to civil war (Dengo and David 1993, van der Elst et al. 1994). Subsequently (to 2005), its contribution to grouper catches fluctuated between 7 and 25% by number (D. Gove, Mozambican Fisheries Research Institute, pers. comm.). Seldom recorded in trap catches in central Mozambique from 1997 to 1998 (n=7 individuals of 1,304 groupers; Abdula et al. 2000). Occasionally recorded (23 individuals of 1,278 groupers) in a survey of boat catches from non-coral reefs off the central KwaZulu-Natal coast during 1985 to 1987 (Oceanographic Research Institute, 1988). Also occasionally recorded (74 individuals of 12,094 groupers) from commercial boat line catches from central KZN coast (non-coral reefs) from 2002 to 2006 (Fennessy, unpub. Data). A. Pages (Refrigepeche Est., pers. comm.), operating a commercial linefishing fleet out of Tamatave (central east coast) in Madagascar, reported that this species is common. Reported in catches from Reunion (D. Miossec pers. comm., IFREMER) but lumped with several other species.

See the supplementary material for Table 1: data from Yaeyama Is. Fishing market (Ishigaki and Iriomote Island) of the southern part of Okinawa island sic. In 2005, this species contributed <1% to all grouper landings there; mostly caught by hook and line and spear.

Catches have declined by 50% in southern Japan, although catch-per-unit-effort has declined less markedly (Table 1). Catches from Mozambique and the Pacific show no obvious trend (Table 2 and 3 respectively). A substantial proportion of the catch is immature (Table 5).

See the supplementary material for Table 2: Catch data (port monitoring) for the Mozambican commercial line fishery. By 2002, fishing effort (no. of fishing days) had declined by half to that in 1993, and, from 2000, boats started to increasingly fish further north and on deeper (to 190 m) reefs as catches on the southern reefs declined (Torres et al. 2003). Percentages are relative contributions to total catch (all species). Discrepancies between figures obtained for 2000/2001 cannot be explained.

See the supplementary material for Table 3: Catches (kg) of C. sonnerati from two localities in the Pacific (Choat unpub. data). American Samoa = boat sector, Guam = offshore sector.

See the supplementary material for Table 4: Densities (no. of fish/km²) of C. sonnerati (Kulbicki unpub. data).

See the supplementary material for Table 5: Length frequencies of C. sonnerati from UVC in New Caledonia (1st row), caught by handline and longline from New Caledonia (2nd row) date? (Kulbicki unpub. data) and from hook and line/spear at Yaeyama Island, Japan (3rd row) in 2005 (Itaru Ohta, Okinawa Prefectural Fisheries and Ocean Research Center Ishigaki Lab. unpub. data).

Fisheries-independent data
Few Cephalopholis sonnerati were seen in northern Somalia while diving on shallow (2 to 14 m) non-coral reefs in northern-eastern Somalia (Mann and Fielding 2000). Not reported in >130 shallow (<30 m) SCUBA dives in southern Mozambique between Ponta do Ouro and Inhaca (Robertson et al. 1996, Pereira, 2003). In shallow (9 to 13 m) fixed transect UVC surveys in the St. Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves (northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) between 1987 and 1992, Chater et al. (1995) recorded only one individual out of 43 groupers. On the west coast of India, this species was recorded at two of nine shallow water (2 to 28 m) sites surveyed in shallow water (2 to 28 m), but at a low relative abundance compared to other groupers (Sluka and Lazarus unpub.). In Tonga and New Caledonia, this species ranked 17th (of 18 grouper species) and 23rd (of 32 grouper species) respectively in terms of densities on all reef types (Table 4). Incidental in Pohnpei fisheries (Rhodes and Tupper 2007). Constitutes 3% of grouper catch in New Caledonia (Kulbicki pers. comm.).

Commonly encountered off northern Somalia, Kenya, southern Mozambique and eastern Madagascar. A likely spawning aggregation was identified at Waigeo, Eastern Indonesia (Sadovy and Liu 2004).
For further information about this species, see 132757_Cephalopholis_sonnerati.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
Cephelopholis sonnerati is a reef-associated species that occurs in deep lagoon reefs and steep outer reef slopes. It is encountered in coastal areas with rocky substrates. Juveniles are usually found near sponges or coral heads. Adults usually reside at moderate depths with bommies with large holes, usually occupied by cleaner shrimps. Usually caught in depths of 30 to 100 m, but in Madagascar, it occurs in depths of 10 to 20 m; may occur in as little as 3 to 4 m depth.

Tomato hind feed on small fishes and crustaceans including shrimps, crabs and stomatopods (Morgans 1964). Harmelin-Vivien and Bouchon (1976) report that 99% of the prey comprised crustaceans.

Size, maturity and reproduction
The maximum recorded size is 57 cm TL (Heemstra and Randall 1993), and one tomato hind of 4.8 kg was recoded from spearfishing (van der Elst 1993). Females mature at about 28 cm SL and males at about 34 cm SL. The smallest observed mature fish 32 cm (Maldives), theoretical length at first maturity 28.5 cm (Shakeel and Ahmed 1997). Morgans (1964) reported a mature fish of 2 lbs, which equates to a weight of 909 g and a length of 37 cm using the length-weight relationship below.

Ripe tomato hind were caught in April, May-June and November-December on the North Kenya Banks (Morgans 1964); ripe fish obtained in January and in October on the North Kenya Banks and/or off Mafia island, Tanzania (Nzioka 1979). Likely spawning aggregation identified at Waigeo, Eastern Indonesia (Sadovy and Liu 2004). Length-weight relationship y g = 0.0145.x cm FL.3.058 (Kulbicki et al. 2005).

The sex ratio was 3:1 female-to-male in New Caledonia during experimental fishing trials, with the smallest mature female at 29.5 cm TL and the smallest mature male at 38 cm TL (IRD database).

There is evidence that this species forms spawning aggregations, which increases its vulnerability to over-fishing.

A congeneric, C. boenak, is protogynous with both primary and secondary males occurring (Liu and Sadovy 2004), and other congenerics exhibit gonads with both male and female tissue (Smith 1965), so it is possible that this species is also protogynous (although C. sonnerati attains a much larger size).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The primary threat to tomato hind is loss of habitat, since the species is reef associated. Episodes of coral reef bleaching in the range of this species are likely to occur increasingly as SST increases (Sheppard 2003). Dynamiting of reefs, fishing with poisons and netting on reefs have resulted in loss of habitat in several countries, such as Tanzania, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia (Spalding et al. 2001, Kunzmann 2004).

Fishing is also a major threat to tomato hind, although most of the fishing effort in the region is small-scale. Fishing, however, is largely unregulated and can generally be assumed to be increasing (e.g., Martosubroto 2005, Cunningham and Bodiguel 2006, Morgan 2006, Flewwelling and Hosch 2006). Tomato hind are caught in the live reef fish trade (Lee and Sadovy, 1998). Based on length frequency data, most of the catch is immature. The species is a minor component of the coral reef fishery in Pohnpei (Rhodes and Tupper 2007). Tomato hind are targeted in Indonesia for local consumption, apparently from spawning aggregations (Sadovy and Liu 2004).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: General
Tomato hind occurs in numerous marine protected areas within its range.

Only 225 km² of reefs are no take-areas in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique (Wells et al. 2007) and it is not clear how much compliance there is. In KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, most of the north coast which contains coral reefs is protected by a strictly enforced 145 km long MPA in which no demersal fishing is allowed. It is intended that this MPA and the southern Mozambique coast from Ponta d’Ouro to Maputo will be incorporated into a Trans-boundary MPA, with areas zoned for protection, which will offer further protection to this species.

In South Africa, as part of a suite of restricted species, a maximum of five individuals of this species may be retained by recreational fishers in one day; no limits for commercial fishers. In Mozambique, a maximum of 10 individuals of demersal species may be retained by recreational fishers.

The species is protected by a size regulation in Queensland, with a maximum catch size of 38 cm TL (Fisheries Amendment Regulation No. 2 2003).

No other country-specific regulations for the species are known.

Citation: Fennessy, S., Min, L. & Russell, B. 2008. Cephalopholis sonnerati. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T132757A3442588. . Downloaded on 18 January 2017.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided