Branchiostegus japonicus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Malacanthidae

Scientific Name: Branchiostegus japonicus (Houttuyn, 1782)
Common Name(s):
English Japanese Horsehead Fish, Horse Head, Horse-head Fish, Horsehead Tilefish, Red Horsehead, Red Tilefish
Spanish Blanquillo
Coryphaena japonica Houttuyn, 1782
Latilus ruber Kishinouye, 1907
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2014. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 31 October 2014. Available at: (Accessed: 31 October 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-01-27
Assessor(s): Dooley, J., Matsuura, K., Collette, B., Nelson, J., Fritzsche, R. & Carpenter, K.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B., Richman, N., Beresford, A., Chenery, A. & Ram, M.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, H., Lutz, M., Batchelor, A., Jopling, B., Kemp, K., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Smith, J. & Livingston, F.
Branchiostegus japonicus has been assessed as Least Concern.  There have been steady overall increases in landings across its range, although in Japan and Taiwan there have been significant decreases in landings. The rapid apparent increase in landings from China is cause for concern, since this may have placed extreme pressure on the population. We reluctantly list this as Least Concern and strongly advocate close monitoring of catch and effort for this species, particularly because we only have landings data available through 2006.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Branchiostegus japonicus is distributed from Honshu to Kyushu, Japan and in the East China Sea (Yokoto et al. 2007). Dooley (1999) states that the distribution extends from the coast of China to South Viet Nam and the waters around the Philippines. Russell and Housten (1989) reported this species from the Arafura Sea, however there is no recent information to support this.
Countries occurrence:
China; Hong Kong; Japan; Philippines; Taiwan, Province of China; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):265
Upper depth limit (metres):30
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Branchiostegus japonicus is reported to be the most common of Japanese tilefish (Dooley 1999). According to FAO statistics for the northwest pacific (listed under Tilefishes nei, although this species is considered the bulk of this catch) there was a steady increase to around 8,000 mt in 2002 and then there was a dramatic jump in landings up to about 74,000 mt in 2005 and a subsequent decline to around 64,000 mt in 2006. Most of the dramatic increases in the landings were due to the Chinese. Landings from Japan and Taiwan Province of China have decreased in recent years while those of Korea and Hong Kong have increased. Overall, there has been an increase and steady landings for the four countries, excluding mainland China.

Females stock in 2005 calculated as 44% of virgin stock in waters off Yamaguchi prefecture (Kamano 2005).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Branchiostegus japonicus occurs in the sublittoral zone over sandy-muddy, or shell-sand-mud substrates and has a depth range of 30 - 265 m but is commonly caught at depths of 80 - 200 m (Dooley 1999). This species inhabits a burrow that is constructed in the sea bottom, by digging into the sand and mud. Branchiostegus japonicus has been observed to show site fidelity, and use burrows to escape predators and for resting at night (Mitamura et al. 2005).

There is sexual dimorphism and potentially protogynous hermaphroditism (J. Dooley pers.comm. 2009). There are also sexual differences in distributions with males typically occupying greater depths (Yamashita 2007).
Generation Length (years):5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Branchiostegus japonicus is an important commercial species in Japan.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Branchiostegus japonicus is an important commercial species in Japan. This species is caught using bottom longlines and trawls, and is marketed fresh, canned or frozen. It has been sold for high prices, similar to red sea bream and Japanese flounder.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Due to a decrease in the catches of Branchiostegus japonicus, a project of red tilefish stock enhancement was initiated in 1984 by the Miyazu Station of Japan Sea-Farming Association (JASFA), now known as Miyazu Station, National Center for Stock Enhancement (NCSE), Fisheries Research Agency (FRA). Yearly production of more than 1,000,000 fertilized eggs and more than 100,000 juveniles was achieved in the 1990s (Yokota et al. 2006). Over 20,000 fingerlings have been released into Western Wakasa Bay since 1998 (Mitamura et al. 2005). However since this time only 18 of all the released fish were recaptured in May 2004. This low recapture rate is thought to be due to errors in the experimental design (Yokota et al. 2006).

Monitoring of the population numbers and harvest levels is also needed. Conservation measures should look at protecting important spawning grounds.

Citation: Dooley, J., Matsuura, K., Collette, B., Nelson, J., Fritzsche, R. & Carpenter, K. 2010. Branchiostegus japonicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T155243A4755945. . Downloaded on 24 May 2018.
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