Lethrinus rubrioperculatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Lethrinidae

Scientific Name: Lethrinus rubrioperculatus Sato, 1978
Common Name(s):
English Spotcheek Emperor , Red-edged Emperor, Red-gilled Emperor
French Bossu Rond , Bossu Varié, Capitaine Gueule Rose , Capitaine Honteux , Empereur Honteux
Spanish Emperador Maquillado
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 29 September 2016. Available at: (Accessed: 29 September 2016).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-09
Assessor(s): Carpenter, K.E., Lawrence, A. & Myers, R.
Reviewer(s): Ralph, G. & Linardich, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ralph, G.
Lethrinus rubrioperculatus is widely distributed. It is heavily fished in many parts of its range and may be experiencing localized population declines in some areas. This species is subject to management efforts in parts of its range. Fishing is not thought to be a major threat on the global level at this time. Lethrinus rubrioperculatus is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Lethrinus rubrioperculatus is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific, from East Africa to southern Japan and the Marquesas. It is found to depths of 160 m (Carpenter 2001).
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Brunei Darussalam; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Disputed Territory (Spratly Is.); Fiji; French Polynesia; French Southern Territories (Mozambique Channel Is.); Guam; India; Indonesia; Japan; Kenya; Kiribati (Gilbert Is., Kiribati Line Is.); Korea, Republic of; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Nauru; New Caledonia; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands (Wake Is.); Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):160
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The majority (92.3%) of the L. rubrioperculatus taken in the multi-gear fishery of southern Kenya were well below lengths of first maturity. The length at first capture was 9.6 cm, while the length at maturity was 26.5 cm. This species was not very abundant in the fishery (Mangi and Roberts 2006).

From 2008-2014, regional estimates of the density of L. rubrioperculatus ranged from 0.07-7.6 individuals per hectare over hard bottoms to 30 m depth in Pacific coral reef areas surveyed by NOAA (NOAA unpublished data as described in Heenan et al. 2014). The highest density was in the Southern Mariana Island region (0-4 individuals per hectare) as compared to the lowest, in the Samoa region (0-0.07 individuals). The species was not recorded in the Hawaiian Islands (NOAA unpublished data as described in Heenan et al. 2014). In the Solomon Islands, surveys around the populous islands showed a mean density of 0.4 /ha and surveys around the remote islands showed a mean density of 4.9 /ha (A. Green, unpublished data).

American Samoa
The commercial bottomfish fishery in American Samoa was established from 1982-1985. Of all bottomfish species landed in American Samoa L. rubioperculatus and other emperors, Etelis corruscans and Lutjanus kasmira are the top landings in pounds comprising about 77% of total landings. Stock assessment of Bottomfish Management Unit Species (BMUS) indicated below maximum sustainable yield. Decline in bottomfishing catch has occurred with decline in effort in American Samoa. Additionally, declines in adjusted price of fish suggest declining fish consumption. In 2011 this species accounted for 11% of all bottomfish landings (3987 lbs/35808 lbs) (WPRFMC 2012).

In Guam, Lethrinids are the largest component of the bottomfish fishery. Catch-per-unit-effort has declined consistently from  the early 1980s until 2008. From 2008 to 2010 CPUE (lbs/hr) values appear to be increasing; however, CPUE in 2010 is 1/2  that of the mid-late 1980s and early 1990s. High early CPUE values may be attributed to relatively unfished bottom areas being more productive . In Guam, Lethrinids have became rare on shallow reefs due to heavy fishing and possibly reef degradation due to natural and human impacts (Green et al. 1997). Emperors are frequently incidental catch in the fishery for small carangids. Lethrinids in Guam have an Annual Catch limit of 38,720 lbs. Coral reef fisheries around Guam have not been determined to be overfished however there are no existing stock assessments (WPRFMC 2012).

Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
Lethrinids, which are caught using various methods, are the dominant catch in the CNMI, sometimes doubling or tripling the next most landed species. Lethrinus rubioperculatus is the most frequently harvested and easily identified species in the shallow-water bottomfish complex. Fishing effort (number of boats and number of trips targeting bottomfish) has declined steadily from 2006 to 2011, while catch rate has remained relatively Commercial landings of Lethrids show large fluctuations from 1983 to 2011, and have particularly fluctuated over the last 8 years. Catch-per-unit-effort (lbs per hour) has fluctuated from 2000 to 2011, with a slight decreasing trend. Catch-per-unit effort has declined consistently in the snorkel spear fishery from a series high of 3.5 lbs/hour in 2000 to a series low of less than 0.25 lbs/hour 2011. Bottomfish stocks are not experiencing overfishing although there are no species-specific stock assessments available (WPRFMC 2012).

Rates of stock decline in Okinawa Island waters have been relatively small (Ebisawa and Ozawa 2009).
This species is heavily exploited in the Philippines, but is still common in markets (K. Carpenter pers. comm. 2015).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Lethrinus rubrioperculatus inhabits sand and rubble areas of outer reef slopes to depths of 160 m. This species feeds mostly on crustaceans, fishes, echinoderms, and molluscs. It reaches a maximum reported total length of 50 cm; however, it is commonly seen to 30 cm (Carpenter 2001). This species is a mesocarnivore which stalks relatively high-speed prey such as fishes and crustaceans (Galbo et al. 2002). It is often found in large schools and prefers hard bottoms under oceanic influences such as reef slopes and offshore banks and reefs (Ebisawa 1997, Hanoomanjee and Soondron 1999, Trianni 2011).

In the waters off Okinawa and Yaeyama the spawning period of this species extended from April to December. Sexual maturation started at about 20 cm FL, and was complete in females at 26 cm FL. Off the Ryukyu Islands, the age of 50% ovarian maturity was 1-2 years (Ebisawa and Ozawa 2009). Spawning intervals were estimated at between 1.0 and 1.52 days from May to October. This species is a protogynous hermaphrodite. The smallest male and largest female observed off Okinawa were 26.4 cm and 41.9 cm, respectively (Ebisawa 1997). In the Northern Mariana Islands commercial fishery the oldest individual sampled was 8 years old, length at maturity corresponded to age 1, length at transition corresponded to age 3-4. Most individuals in the South Southern Islands were 0-2 years old, while most in the North Southern Islands were 1-4 years old (Trianni 2011).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is an excellent food fish. It is caught mostly by handline, trap and trawl and marketed fresh (Carpenter 2001). This species is a dominant component of coral reef fisheries in the Indo-Pacific region within the 50 to 80 m depth range (Carpenter and Allen 1989). In the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands this species is an important food and cultural resource, and is often presented at local cultural events such as fiestas and weddings (Trianni and Tenorio 2012). Lethrinids are dominant features of fish landings in many parts of the Pacific. In Oceania, lethrinids are components of reef and lagoon and deep-slope species stocks, and are sometimes taken with small pelagics. Lethrinids are the main targeted reef fish species in Fiji. Commercial hand-line fishing primarily targets lethrinids in Guam in waters less than 150 m. Lethrinids are landed using hand-lines, spears, surrounding nets, and drive-in nets, and occasionally using spears and beach seines (Dalzell et al. 1996).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is a component of fisheries throughout its range, but this does not appear to be a major threat at the global level.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species' range is overlaps with marine protected areas. It is included in the Bottomfish and Seamount Groundfish Fishery Management Plan in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and other uninhabited US Pacific Islands. Measures include the prohibition of some destructive fishing practices and allows for regulatory adjustments such as catch limits, size limits, area or seasonal closures, fishing effort limitations, fishing gear restrictions, access limitations, permit and/or catch reporting requirements. In 2006, an ecosystem-based management approach was adopted by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC 2012).

Citation: Carpenter, K.E., Lawrence, A. & Myers, R. 2016. Lethrinus rubrioperculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16720528A16722355. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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