Caulolatilus microps 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Malacanthidae

Scientific Name: Caulolatilus microps Goode & Bean, 1878
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Blueline Tilefish, Grey Tilefish
French Tile Gris
Spanish Blanquillo Lucio
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. and Fricke, R. (eds). 2015. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 1 October 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 1 October 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-01-29
Assessor(s): Dooley, J., Collette, B., Aiken, K.A., Marechal, J., Pina Amargos, F., Kishore, R. & Singh-Renton, S.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Harwell, H.
This deep-living species is widely distributed and occurs over mud and rubble bottoms on the continental shelf to upper slope. It is sought after in commercial and recreational fisheries. Since tilefishes have been over-fished in previous years, this fishery will require close fishery management. This species is long lived and a protogynous hermaphrodite, which causes it to be susceptible to overfishing. Quantitative information on population declines is needed over the last three generation lengths in order to calculate extinction risk.

It is currently listed as Data Deficient until more information becomes available. In the Gulf of Mexico, deep-living species is widely distributed and occurs over mud and rubble bottoms. It is directly targeted in commercial tilefish fisheries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which have shown a decline in biomass for combined tilefishes since 1965. According to the SEDAR 22 stock assessment for Tilefishes (2011), there is not sufficient data to conduct a formal stock assessment for this species in U.S. waters. In Mexico, all tilefishes are recorded in mixed catches with no species-specific statistics. This species is long lived and a protogynous hermaphrodite, which causes it to be susceptible to overfishing. For this reason more species-specific information, including estimates of biomass over time, are needed to determine the status of its population in the Gulf of Mexico.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Caulolatilus microps is distributed in the western Atlantic Ocean from Cape Charles, Virginia south along the U.S. coast, in the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Keys north along the coast to the Texas/Mexico border and off the northwestern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. It is not reported from the Caribbean Sea. Its depth range is 30-236 m (Ross and Huntsman 1982).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – northwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):236
Upper depth limit (metres):30
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are 24 nominal records in Fishnet2 with up to three individuals in a single lot.

Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps and Caulolatilus microps are the primary species managed in the Gulf of Mexico tilefish quota. Landings for this species were not reported at the species-level prior to 1992. Landings of Golden Tilefish (L. chamaeleonticeps) in statistical areas south of central Florida are mostly C. microps with only a small proportion L. chamaeleonticeps. Caulolatilus microps is also a major bycatch species in the yellow-edge grouper fishery (SEDAR 2011). Landings of C. microps in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico longline fishery peaked at about 180,000 t in 1999, with a second peak in 2009 at 180,000 t. Landings in the Eastern Gulf vertical line fishery peaked at 110,000 t in 1981 and declined steadily to 10,000 t in 2009. Based on fishery-independent data from 1992 to 2009, catch per unit effort (CPUE) increased during the first three years of the time series, with no trend from 1995 to 2003, but decreased again in 2009 (SEDAR 2011).

There are fewer records of this species in the Gulf of Mexico, compared to Golden Tilefish, especially from the southern Gulf, which may reflect sampling effort. This species is also associated more with rocky reefs, wrecks, oil rigs, and hard structures. It was not reported in commercial catches in the U.S. before 1992. Prior to 1992, it was recorded as 'Golden Tilefish'. According to the SEDAR 22 stock assessment for tilefishes (2011), there was not sufficient data to conduct a formal stock assessment for C. microps. In Mexico. all tilefishes are recorded in mixed catches of either Blanquillo camelo or Conejo Amarillo, and species-specific catch statistics are not collected. Tilefishes are not common in Mexican markets, and may be seasonal catches. It occurs as bycatch in the Red Grouper fishery off Mexico.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Caulolatilus microps is a moderately deep, bottom-dwelling species that occurs over mud and rubble on the outer continental shelf, shelf break and upper slope. It is generally not migratory and most likely inhabits burrows as do most of its congeners. It shares burrows with Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps (Able et al. 1987). It also associates with Pagrus pagrus, Epinephelus niveatus, E. nigritus, Rhomboplites aurorubens, Lutjanus vivanus, Caulolatilus cyanops, and Caulolatilus chrysops, although usually in shallower water. This is an opportunistic predator that consumes fishes and macroinvertebrates closely associated with the substrate (Ross 1982, Ross and Huntsman 1982). The maximum length is 66 cm standard length, commonly to 55 cm; weight is 9 kg (IGFA 2009). Males are larger than the female conspecifics (Dooley 2002). The oldest individuals captured were 15 years old (Ross 1978), although it may live up to 25-30 years (J. Dooley pers. comm. 2013).

Caulolatilus microps spawns off North and South Carolina, USA from April through October. Fecundity is significantly correlated with length and weight. Fecundity ranges from 210,000 ova for a 41.2 cm total length (TL) (0.82 kg) fish to 4.1 million ova for a 73.6 cm TL (4.85 kg) fish. Females reach sexual maturity at about four to five years of age and a length of 42.5-45 cm. Males show pronounced testicular development after age five at about 50 cm TL. This species is probably a protogynous hermaphrodite (Ross and Merriner 1987).
Ross and Huntsman (1982) calculated instantaneous total mortality (Z) from 1972 to 1977 to be 0.22 by calculating the slope of the descending leg of the catch curve from age six (See Figure 6 in Ross and Huntsman 1982). This was determined to be a possible underestimation of Z if larger fish are more vulnerable to hook-and-line capture.

Generation length: Age of first reproduction + (z * Length of the reproductive period) (IUCN Standards and Petitions Sucommittee 2014). Length of the reproductive period = (Longevity - Age of first reproduction); z = 0.5; Longevity = 15 years.

Therefore generation length = 9.75 years [4.5+(0.5*(15-4.5)].

Note: The generation length value was calculated using the average female age of first maturity.
Generation Length (years):9.75

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Caulolatilus microps is sought after as a food fish. It is caught on hook-and-line and bottom longlines usually with fish or squid as bait and occasionally caught in trawls. It is common in sportfish catches throughout its range. It is usually marketed fresh and has high fishery potential (Dooley 2002). It is generally not susceptible to hook-and-line method until they reach 40 cm at about the age of four years and are not fully recruited into the recreational fishery until they reach 50-52.5 cm at about five years of age (Ross and Huntsman 1982). It makes up 97% by weight of catch in the deepwater reef fishery off the southeastern United States.

Reported commercial landings for the southeastern United States peaked in 1983 at 530 metric tons (mt) and fell to 31 mt by 1985; landings increased to 117 mt in 1992, but were less than 50 mt by 1999. Causes of these fluctuations are unknown. Landings exceeded 100 mt only once between 1986 and 1999 (Harris et al. 2004). Since 1994, the tilefish landings have been variable and the ten-year average (1992-2001) for C. microps was 9 mt.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overfishing is a possible threat to this species. Caulolatilus spp. have been overfished in the past, therefore, fishery management is important.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In the Gulf of Mexico, tilefishes were added to the Fishery Management Plan for the reef fish fishery with the passing of Amendment 1 in 1990, under the authority of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Management is not species-specific. Tilefishes are subject to permanent limited access system, recreational aggregate bag limits (4 fish), gear restriction, bycatch reporting methodologies for logbooks and observer programs, moratoria/commercial fisheries closures when needed (SEDAR 2011).

Tilefishes are considered data-poor for stock assessment purposes, and therefore, have many research needs. Research priorities for the Gulf of Mexico stock include: improving abundance indices, stock definition and structure, and life history components (SEDAR 2011). The tilefish fishery off the eastern United States (which covers multiple species) was originally an open-access fishery, however, a Fishery Management Plan was put in place on 1 November 2001 which applies to Virginia/North Carolina. Tilefish south of North Carolina are managed under the Southern Atlantic Fishery Management Council's FMP for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery. The key measures taken by the Fishery Management Plan included a 10-year stock rebuilding schedule; a commercial quota divided into full-time, part-time and incidental categories; a trip limit for the incidental category; and limited entry for the full-time and part-time categories. The tilefish FMP became experimental as it did not expect cooperation nor was there a consequence for lack of cooperation. The FMP originally qualified 51 vessels for tilefish fishing, however, this number has gradually declined to 30 vessels. An annual Total Allowable Landings quota was established as well as a limited access program which established three permit categories (Rountree et al. 2008). An individual fishing quota (IFQ) program was implemented for the grouper and tilefish fisheries in 2010 (Scott-Denton et al. 2011). The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council designated eight marine protected areas between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA and the Florida Keys to protect seven species of the deepwater snapper-grouper complex in Feburary 2009. These consist of five species of grouper and two species of tilefish including Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps and C. microps. These species are considered to be overfished based on recent stock assessments (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2009).

Citation: Dooley, J., Collette, B., Aiken, K.A., Marechal, J., Pina Amargos, F., Kishore, R. & Singh-Renton, S. 2015. Caulolatilus microps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190191A16510127. . Downloaded on 19 November 2017.
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