Istiophorus platypterus 

Scope: Persian Gulf
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Istiophoridae

Scientific Name: Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw, 1792)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Sailfish
French Empereur Éventail, Espadon Voilier
Spanish Aguja de Abanico , Pez Velo, Picudo Banderón
Histiophorus americanus Cuvier,1832
Histiophorus ancipitirostris Cuvier, 1832
Histiophorus dubius Bleeker, 1872
Histiophorus gracilirostris Cuvier, 1832
Histiophorus granulifer Castelnau, 1861
Histiophorus immaculatus Rüppell, 1830
Histiophorus indicus Cuvier, 1832
Histiophorus magnioci Jordan, 1927
Histiophorus orientalis Temminck & Schlegel, 1844
Histiophorus pulchellus Cuvier, 1832
Istiophorus amarui Curtiss, 1944
Istiophorus brookei Fowler, 1933
Istiophorus eriquius Jordan, 1926
Istiophorus gladifer Lacepède, 1801
Istiophorus greyi Jordan & Evermann, 1926
Istiophorus japonicus Jordan & Thompson, 1914
Istiophorus ludibundus Whitley, 1933
Istiophorus maguirei Jordan & Evermann, 1926
Istiophorus triactis Klunzinger, 1871
Istiophorus wrighti Jordan & Evermann, 1926
Makaira albicans Latreille, 1804
Makaira velifera Cuvier, 1832
Scomber gladius Bloch, 1793
Skeponopodus guebucu Nardo, 1833
Xiphias platypterus Shaw, 1792
Xiphias velifer Bloch & Schneider, 1801
Taxonomic Notes: There is no genetic evidence in the mtDNA control region to indicate that the Atlantic (Istiophorus albicans) and Indo-Pacific (Istiophorus platypterus) Sailfishes are separate species (Collette et al. 2006). However, there are two distinct mtDNA clades, both evident in the Atlantic while only one is found in the Indo-Pacific (McDowell 2002). There is also no difference in pectoral fin length or in any other morphometric or meristic characters between Atlantic and Indo-Pacific populations of sailfish (Morrow and Harbo 1969, McDowell 2002). There is no evidence that the Atlantic and Mediterranean populations are separate species (B. Collette pers. comm 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-11-04
Assessor(s): Collette, B.B., Bishop, J., Kaymaram, F., Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Hartmann, S.
Reviewer(s): Buchanan, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Linardich, C., Buchanan, J. & Slater, D.
Istiophorus platypterus is widespread in deeper waters of the Persian Gulf, particularly off Iran. Istiophorus platypterus is a popular game fish and is caught as bycatch in the Persian Gulf and there is no directed fishery. Genetic data suggests that a rescue effect through the Strait of Hormuz is highly unlikely. Istiophorus platypterus is listed as Least Concern in the Persian Gulf, with a recommendation for further research into the status of this stock.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Istiophorus platypterus occurs throughout the Persian Gulf (Hoolihan 2003). Istiophorus platypterus is rarely recorded from Kuwait or Bahrain (E. Abdulqader and J. Bishop pers. comm. 2013). Istiophorus platypterus is uncommonly captured as bycatch in the Scomberomorus commerson gill net fishery off Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the winter season (E. Abdulqader and Q. Alghawzi pers. comm. 2013). The majority of the population appears to range off Iran, which includes the deeper area of the Persian Gulf (F. Kaymaram pers. comm. 2013).
Countries occurrence:
Bahrain; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Kuwait; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; United Arab Emirates
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):200
Range Map:170338-26

Population [top]


Istiophorus platypterus is reportedly widespread through the Persian Gulf (Hoolihan 2003, 2006). Genetic analysis of the Persian Gulf's Istiophorus platypterus population determined the population is isolated from populations outside the Persian Gulf with less than one individual per generation reproducing with both (Hoolihan et al. 2004, Hoolihan 2005, Hoolihan and Luo 2007). IOTC recognizes the single stock of Istiophorus platypterus; However, there is no known stock assessment of the Istiophorus platypterus stock in the Persian Gulf (IOTC 2012). Thus, further research is recommended (IOTC 2013). 

RECOFI aggregate landings do not provide a clear trend in catches, with 51 tonnes collected in 1991, a peak of 1,231 tonnes in 1999, followed by a decline to 23 tonnes in 2010. Landings then increased to 100 tonnes in 2011. In Iran, landings for Istiophorus platypterus provide no clear trend, with 937 tonnes collected in 2009 and 1,034 tonnes in 2012 (F. Kaymaram pers. comm. 2013).

Oceanographic and genetic data suggests that a rescue effect through the Strait of Hormuz is negligible.

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

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Istiophorus platypterus is an oceanic, epipelagic species usually found above the thermocline (Nakamura 1984) to depths of 40 m. Istiophorus platypterus is most densely distributed in waters close to coasts and islands (Nakamura 1997). Istiophorus platypterus occasionally forms schools or smaller groups of 3–30 individuals but often occurs in loose aggregations over a wide area. Istiophorus platypterus most likely schools by size. Fishes, crabs, and molluscs consist of 82, 31, and 25%, respectively, of Istiophorus platypterus diet (Ganga et al. 2012). The maximum recorded fork length (FL) is 348 cm (IGFA 2015).

Istiophorus platypterus has a fast growth rate. Using the best available data, longevity is estimated to be 13 years and age of maturity 2.5 years (Prince et al. 1986, Ortiz et al. 2003, IUCN SSC Tuna and Billfishes Specialist Group). No external sexual dimorphism, but females grow larger than males. Fecundity increases sharply with size of the female (Nakamura 1985, de Sylva and Breder 1997, Richards and Luthy 2005, Chiang et al. 2006, Wang et al. 2006). In the southeastern Arabian Sea, absolute fecundity was 2,097,481 eggs (Ganga et al. 2012). Using a longevity of 13 years and age of maturity of 2.5 years, the generation length was estimated to be 4.3 years. The generation length is calculated as: age of first reproduction + z * (longevity - age of first maturity), where z is 0.15 (Collette et al. 2011).
Generation Length (years):4.3
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Istiophorus platypterus is mainly caught as bycatch. Istiophorus platypterus has no directed fishery in the Persian Gulf, though it may be popular as a sport fish. Istiophorus platypterus is caught by longlines and setnets (Carpenter et al. 1997).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There is no directed fishery for Istiophorus platypterus in the Persian Gulf, but it is caught as bycatch. Istiophorus platypterus is accidentally caught by commercial fishermen with surface drift nets by trawling, harpooning and set netting. Istiophorus platypterus is most important as a sports fish, and this could pose a potential local threat, especially as this species is found primarily near shore and around islands.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Istiophorus platypterus is a highly migratory species listed in Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (FAO Fisheries Department 1994). Size limitations, encouragement of catch-and-release sport fishing, and recommendations for using circle hooks instead of J-hooks are measures designed to increase survival in catch-and-release sport fishing (Serafy et al. 2009).

Citation: Collette, B.B., Bishop, J., Kaymaram, F., Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Hartmann, S. 2015. Istiophorus platypterus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T170338A57129521. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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