Spicara smaris 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Centracanthidae

Scientific Name: Spicara smaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Picarel, Deep-body Pickarel
Spanish Caramel
Maena smaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Smaris alcedo (Risso, 1810)
Smaris gracilis Bonaparte, 1836
Smaris maurii Bonaparte, 1836
Smaris smaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Smaris vulgaris Valenciennes, 1830
Sparus alcedo Risso, 1810
Sparus smaris Linnaeus, 1758
Spicara alcedo (Risso, 1810)
Taxonomic Notes: The family Centracanthidae will soon be subsumed under the family Sparidae, because the centracanthid fishes are highly polyphyletic with sparid fishes (Chiba et al. 2009, Hanel and Tsigenopoulos 2011, Santini et al. 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2009-08-22
Assessor(s): Russell, B., Pollard, D. & Carpenter, K.E.
Reviewer(s): de Morais, L.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Comeros-Raynal, M. & Gorman, C.

Spicara smaris
is widespread in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. This species is locally abundant in some parts of its range, and although it can be important in fisheries there are no indications of any substantial population declines. It is therefore listed globally as Least Concern.


In Europe, this species is widespread and locally abundant. It is of minor commercial importance and no major threats have been identified. It is therefore listed regionally as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Spicara smaris is distributed in the eastern Atlantic and is known from Portugal to the Canary Islands, and throughout the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and the southern Sea of Azov (Heemstra 1990, Carpenter in prep.). The depth range for this species is 15 to 328 m (Mytilineou et al. 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt; France; Georgia; Gibraltar; Greece; Israel; Italy; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Mauritania; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Spain (Canary Is.); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):328
Upper depth limit (metres):15
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Separate FAO statistics are not reported for this species in the Eastern Central Atlantic Area (Carpenter in press). The species is common to very common and abundant throughout its range in the Mediterranean Sea, but it is less common in the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) catch statistics from the Mediterranean Sea are aggregated for all species of picarels, and show fluctuations of around 15,000 tonnes in the late 1950s, down to around 10,000 tonnes in the early 1990s, and then fluctuations between 7,000 and 9,000 tonnes from the late 1990s to 2005 (FishStat 2000).

FAO capture production figures in 2012 were 183 tonnes in Croatia.

It is assumed the average age of mature individuals for these species is probably less than four to five years. In the GFCM report (FAO - General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean 2005), fishing operations in the Saronikos Gulf conducted with trawls and beach seines in 1998 caught 70 tonnes and 59 tonnes, respectively. The stock was considered moderately exploited.

Stergiou et al. (2004) collected 1,469 specimens, with lengths varying from 5.8 to 17 cm TL, using various fishing gears (trawls, beach-seines) in the Cyclades (Aegean Sea) during 1995 to 2000. The species is common to very common and abundant throughout its range in the Mediterranean Sea, but it is less common in the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.

Vidalis and Tsimenides (1996) sampled 2,614 specimens, collected on a monthly basis off Iraklion (Fishing Grounds N.4 and N.51), from April 1988 until June 1989. Furthermore, 5,688 specimens were collected on a seasonal basis, in almost all fishing grounds trawled by commercial boats off Crete, from April 1988 until August 1990. The pooled total sample amounted to 7,302 specimens.

Vidalis et al. (1997) collected 2,645 specimens, with lengths varying from 9.1 to 16.7 cm (TL), by means of trawls in six different localities of the Aegean Sea (Iraklion, Agia Galini, Cyclades, Thermaicos Gulf, Kavala, Alexandroupoli). Dulcic et al. (2003) collected 198 males and 809 females, with lengths varying from 6.3 to 19.8 cm TL, by means of trawls and beach seines, in the eastern Adriatic Sea (Croatian Coast), during April and May in 1999.

Valle et al. (2003) collected 31 specimens, with lengths varying from 10 to 17 cm (TL), caught by means of trawls (108 hauls) at six locations along the east coast of Spain (Tabarca, Santa Pola, Postiguet, San Juna, Campello, Villajoyosa) in November 1995.

Karakulak et al. (2006) caught 231 specimens, with lengths varying from 11.5 to 18.7 cm (TL), from a survey conducted with gill and trammel nets in the coastal waters of Turkey from March 2004 to February 2005.

Ozaydin et al. (2007) collected 27 specimens from Izmir Bay (Central Aegean Sea) between February and December 2005 using bottom trawls, with TL ranging from 10.0 and 15.1 cm. Gokce and Metin (2007) collected 23 specimens using three artisanal fishing boats comprising 39 fishing operations. The trials took place between May and October 2003 in Izmir Bay, Turkey.

Tunesi et al. (2005) recorded juveniles occurring in the Ligurian sea (sampled with purse seine) from May to August and in November.

Tokac et al. (2004) caught 2,922 specimens by means of trawls (25 hauls) in the north Aegean Sea, with TL from 9 to 15 cm.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Spicara smaris is a midwater and demersal species, occurring at a depth range from 15 to 170 m, but down to a depth of 328 m in the eastern Ionian Sea (Mytilineou et al. 2005). This species occurs in Posidonia beds and over muddy substrata, where it feeds on crustaceans and molluscs, and forms schools except during reproductive periods (Carpenter in press). It attains a maximum total length of 20 cm. The maximum age for this species in the Adriatic Sea was estimated at six years (Dulcic et al. 2003) and seven years from the Cretan continental shelf (Vidalis and Tsimenidis 1996). 


This species is a sequential protogynous hermaphrodite, which shows sexual dimorphism only during the reproductive period (Vidalis and Tsimenidis 1996). It spawns on detritic sandy substrata and Posidonia beds, where the nests are excavated. A brightly colored male actively guards each nest, while females and some males swim above the area. At the end of the incubation period, the males lose their coloration, group into large schools, and move to feeding places.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This is a species with minor, but increasing, commercial fisheries importance; it is for instance among the ten most abundant fish species caught in the seas of Turkey (Marmara and Mediterranean seas) (Harlio─člu 2011). It is mainly caught by bottom trawls, beach seines, gill nets, trammel nets, pots and purse seines.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats known for this species. However, the ICES Working Group on Introduction and Transfers of Marine Organisms (ICES 2012) based upon Kalogirous (2011) indicates that the invasive fish Fistularia commersonii was found to prey on S. smaris in the eastern Mediterranean, which may constitute an upcoming threat since F. commersonnii is expanding its range towards Western Mediterranean. FAO landings for captured picarels (including three species) do indicate an overall decline of perhaps 20-30% over the last 10 years. As these are mixed species statistics, it is difficult to determine any population trends for S. smaris. It is recommended that separate statistics be kept for the three species, and that population studies be carried out for all picarels.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. It occurs in some marine protected areas within its range (World Database of Protected Areas, accessed March 2014). Fisheries statistics need to be separated for the different picarel species in the Mediterranean catches, and more population studies are required.

Citation: Russell, B., Pollard, D. & Carpenter, K.E. 2014. Spicara smaris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T170283A1308287. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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