Sarpa salpa 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Sparidae

Scientific Name: Sarpa salpa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Karanteen, Goldline, Gold Line, Salema, Salpa
French Saupe
Spanish Cagona, Saboga, Salema
Boops goreensis (Valenciennes, 1830)
Boops salpa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Box goreensis Valenciennes, 1830
Box salpa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Eusalpa salpa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sparus salpa Linnaeus, 1758

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2009-08-17
Assessor(s): Russell, B., Pollard, D., Mann, B.Q., Buxton, C.D. & Carpenter, K.E.
Reviewer(s): de Morais, L.
Contributor(s): Comeros-Raynal, M. & Gorman, C.

Sarpa salpa
 is common and locally abundant in suitable habitats throughout its range. The landings data and stock assessment indicate that the S. salpa population is stable throughout most of its range. This species is assessed as Least Concern. We recommend continued monitoring of its population status and harvest levels. In addition, it may become threatened in the eastern Mediterranean by the continued success and competition from Lessepsian siganid migrants from the Red Sea, and this should be closely monitored.


In European waters, this species is common and can be locally abundant. Landing statistics indicate that the population is stable; however, this species exhibits life history traits that make it more vulnerable to fishing pressure. It is listed as Least Concern but should be closely monitored.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Sarpa salpa is widely distributed in the northeastern Atlantic from southwestern France (Bay of Biscay) to Sierra Leone, including the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands. In the southeastern Atlantic it is known southwards from Congo to South Africa and into the Indian Ocean to southern Mozambique (Carpenter in prep., Heemstra and Heemstra 2004). It is present throughout the Mediterranean Sea, and in the southwestern and southeastern Black Sea. A single record from the North Sea needs to be verified. This species occurs to depths of 70 m.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Angola; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Cape Verde; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt; France; Gambia; Georgia; Gibraltar; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Israel; Italy; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Mauritania; Monaco; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Portugal (Azores, Madeira, Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain (Baleares, Canary Is., Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Indian Ocean – western; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):70
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Sarpa salpa is considered to be underexploited in KwaZulu-Natal (van der Walt and Govender 1996). Catch per unit effort (CPUE) in KwaZulu-Natal increased between 1975–1977 and 1994-1996 from 0.22 fish/angler/day to 0.51 fish/angler/day but declined during 2009–2010 to 0.34 fish/angler/day (Joubert 1981, Mann et al. 1997, Dunlop 2011). However, this may be a result of subtle differences in survey design in the mentioned studies rather than a decrease in abundance (Dunlop 2011) and should therefore be viewed with caution. An increase in CPUE was also recorded on the Eastern Cape coast between 1985–1986 and 1994–1996 from 8.98 g/fisher/hr to 13.4 g/fisher/hr (Clarke and Buxton 1989, Brouwer 1997). Unpublished data from long-term monitoring of shore anglers' catches in KwaZulu-Natal (National Marine Linefish System) revealed a decrease in CPUE from 1985–2008 from 0.25 fish/angler to 0.1 fish/angler but this trend is likely to have been at least partially effected by the introduction of a daily bag limit of ten fish per angler per day introduced in 2005 (Mann and Dunlop 2013).

Fishing mortality was recorded at  F=0.81 year-1 in Kwazulu-Natal from 1994-1995 with SBPR at 60% (van der Walt and Govender 1996). There was an increase in catch composition between 1975–1977 (20.3%) and 1994–1996 (42.9%) in Kwazulu-Natal but a subsequent decline from 2009–2010 (34%) (Joubert 1981, Mann et al. 1997, Dunlop 2011). As mentioned previously, minor differences in survey design by these studies may have resulted in the observed changes in percentage composition (Dunlop 2011). A slight increase was recorded between 1985-86 (21.5%) and 1994–1996 (23.1%) in the Southeastern Cape (Clarke and Buxton 1989, Brouwer 1997). A sex ratio (M:F) of 1.1:1 was recorded in KwaZulu-Natal from 1975–1977 (Joubert 1981) but a ratio of 1.6:1 was later recorded from 1994–1995 in KwaZulu-Natal (van der Walt and Mann 1998).

FAO landing statistics for the Mediterranean Sea show a steady increase over the last 50 years, with a peak in the early 1990s at around 4,000 tonnes and stabilizing at around 2,000 tonnes during the period from 1996 to 2005. This species is very common and very abundant in suitable habitats throughout its range in the Mediterranean Sea. In a study by Akyol and Ertosluk (2010), captures from the sea-cage farms along the coast of the Turkish Aegean Sea, were determined with the use of a special cage trap and trammel net. Hand or longlines and underwater harpoons, although rare, were also in use. This species was dominant and accounted for 10.2% of the total weight of one fish farm from 2004–2008. In the eastern Mediterranean Sea, there is some circumstantial evidence that this species is being displaced and out-competed by Siganus luridus and S. rivuluatus, both of which are herbivores and very successful Lessepsian migrants from the Red Sea (Lundberg et al. 2004). Sarpa salpa has since become very rare along the Lebanese coast despite the large numbers existing there in the 1930s (Bariche et al. 2004).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Sarpa salpa is a herbivorous grazer of algae species and inhabits areas with  rocky or sandy bottoms covered with seaweeds, to depths of about 70 m. This species is gregarious, sometimes forming sizeable schools. In southern Africa, adults inhabit subtidal gullies and shallow rocky reefs and are largely confined to the surf zone. Juveniles are found in tidal rockpools, sandy littoral, shallow reefs and estuaries in the Southeastern Cape and Southwestern Cape (Mann and Dunlop 2013). There is evidence of an adult migration in South Africa with adults migrating from juvenile nursery areas in the Western and Eastern Cape to breed in the warmer waters of KwaZulu-Natal (van der Walt and Mann 1998). They remain in the inshore zone (<15m) and there is little evidence of a return migration to the Cape although some of the largest specimens have been caught in Cape waters (Mann et al. 2000). Sarpa salpa is mainly herbivorous, but sometimes also feed on small crustaceans (Carpenter, in press). Some individuals are toxic after ingestion of the alga Caulerpa (Fischer et al. 1987). The maximum length of this species is 51 cm (Fischer et al. 1987), but seldom exceeds 30 cm in South African waters. The maximum age recorded for this species in South African waters is six years and the maximum weight is 0.7 kg, a South Africa angling record (Mann and Dunlop 2013), whereas this species has been aged up to 11 years with a maximum weight of 1.5 kg in the Canary Islands (Villamil et al. 2002). 


Growth of this species is described in the following equation Lt = 224 mm FL(1-e-0,55/yr(t+0.51yrs)) in Kwazulu-Natal (van der Walt and Beckley 1997). The allometric coefficient of the length-weight relationship is 3.04 (Criscoli et al. 2006). In the Canary Islands, the parameters of the von Bertalanffy growth equation for all individuals were: Linf = 479 mm, k = 0.212 year-1 and t0 = -1.08 year-1  (Villamil et al. 2002).


Sarpa salpa is characterized by protandric hermaphroditism (van der Walt and Mann 1998, Villamil et al. 2002) but was previously described as a rudimentary hermaphrodite (Joubert 1981). Sex change normally occurs between 18 and 22 cm fork length, corresponding to and age of around three years (van der Walt and Mann 1998). The size at maturity is 14.5 cm, at which most individuals are males although some primary females may also be present (i.e. dygynous). In Cape Verde, two distinct spawning periods are observed: one in spring, from March to May, and the other in autumn, from the end of September to November. In Kwazulu-Natal, spawning occurs in winter and spring from April to September with a peak from June to August (van der Walt and Mann 1998). Spawning takes place over shallow subtidal reefs along the KwaZulu-Natal coast (Joubert 1981, van der Walt and Mann 1998, Connell 2012), while some spawning has also been recorded off the Eastern Cape coast (Heemstra and Heemstra 2004). The age at 50% maturity for this species in KwaZulu-Natal is about 1.5 years (van der Walt and Mann 1998). The length at 50% maturity for males is 14–15 cm FL, 16–17 cm FL and for females (Joubert 1981) and 14.5 cm FL for combined sexes (van der Walt and Mann 1998). 

In the Canarian archipelago, the overall sex ratio was unbalanced in favour of males (1:0.41). The reproductive season extends from September to March, with a peak in spawning activity in winter (December-January). Males reached maturity at a smaller length (226 mm, two years old) than females (294 mm, three years old). Individuals aged zero to 11 years were found (Villamil et al. 2002).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Sarpa salpa is harvested almost exclusively by shore anglers and subsistence shore fishers throughout its distribution and is the second most important species (by number) caught along the KwaZulu-Natal and Southeastern Cape coast (Joubert 1981, Clarke and Buxton 1989, van der Walt and Govender 1996, Mann et al. 1997, Brouwer 1997, Brouwer et al. 1997, Mann et al. 2003, Dunlop 2011). Throughout its range, this species is exploited by an irregular and not very important fishery. Separate statistics are not reported for this species. Sarpa salpa is caught on line gear, with bottom trawls, trammel nets, beach seines and in traps (Canary Islands) but is mostly discarded in Portuguese fisheries due to it's low market value (Gonçalves et al. 2008) and it is only rarely reported in catches from trawlers in Senegal (DPM 2013 ). It is marketed fresh or frozen, sometimes dried salted (flesh not very highly esteemed) and is also used for fishmeal and oil (Carpenter in press). This species is used for both food and bait (van der Elst 1993).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Major threats have not been identified for S. salpa but fishing may become a threat

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Sarpa salpa is on the Bait list category in South Africa and there is a minimum size limit of 15 cm TL. This species is found in abundance in MPAs between Durban and Cape Town, however, level of protection in these MPAs are not known due to the species' migratory habit (B. Mann ORI pers. obs., Mann et al. 2000). Fishing regulations are recommended because of its relatively slow maturing reproductive strategy. More genetic information would be useful for the management of this species.

Citation: Russell, B., Pollard, D., Mann, B.Q., Buxton, C.D. & Carpenter, K.E. 2014. Sarpa salpa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T170169A1286510. . Downloaded on 23 March 2018.
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