Epinephelus chabaudi 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus chabaudi (Castelnau, 1861)
Common Name(s):
English Moustache Grouper
Epinephelus chabaudi (Castelnau, 1861)
Serranus chabaudi Castelnau, 1861

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-03-19
Assessor(s): Fennessy, S. & Craig, M.T.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Heemstra, P.

There is little information available for this species, although it was once common in trawl catches off the Kerala coast (India) and is taken in deep waters of the Seychelles. Epinephelus chabuadi is seldom reported in catches - it is not clear if this reflects a decline in catches or long-standing low levels of abundance or the difficulty experienced in targeting this (mainly) deep-water species with adults mostly occurring in deep water (> 100 m). Furthermore, fisheries statistics for most of the region are poor and groupers are often aggregated. There is limited information on the life history characteristics or specific habitat requirements of this species, and it is listed as Data Deficient. Given that it is a relatively large size grouper (to 137 cm total length), which tend to be quite vulnerable to fishing, and occurs where there is little to no fishery management, efforts should be made to learn more about the life history and harvest levels of this species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Epinephelus chabaudi is distributed in the western Indian Ocean from the Western Cape Province (Knysna) and Kwazulu-Natal Province in South Africa, southern Mozambique, Kenya (Malindi), Seychelles and off Kerala province in southwest India (Heemstra and Randall 1993). The unpublished records from northern KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, southern Mozambique and from the Seychelles are more recent, with a larger specimen from Seychelles donated to the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity and identified by P.C. Heemstra (J. Robinson unpubl. data).

Countries occurrence:
India; Kenya; Mozambique; Seychelles; Somalia; South Africa
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):400
Upper depth limit (metres):9
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Epinephelus chabaudi is seldom recorded in catches in its range, probably because it is not common and also because it is a deep-water species. It was not observed in commercial boat line catches from the central region of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province in South Africa from 2002-2006, although skippers reported that it was caught occasionally in deep (> 150 m) water (S. Fennessy unpubl. data). Historically, Smith (1958) reported that it was not uncommon in boat line catches in 9-55 m south of Durban, South Africa; more recently, it was recorded as contributing between 1.6% and 1.8% (by number) to overall commercial and recreational boat line catches from southern KZN and the Eastern Cape provinces from 1997-1999 (Fennessy et al. 2003). Juveniles (< ~400 m) occur in surf-zone catches on the southeast coast of South Africa (Brouwer et al. 1997).

This species was not reported from commercial line catches from southern Mozambique in the mid-1990s after the fishery rapidly developed following 20 years of light fishing effort owing to civil war (Dengo and David 1993, van der Elst et al. 1994) – probably because the fishery initially concentrated on shallower depths. It is reported annually in subsequent port monitoring of this fishery from 2000-2005 (D. Gove pers. comm. 2011), but not in sufficient numbers to warrant separate recording of numbers and weights. Only three individuals were caught in the experimental commercial trap fishery in central Mozambique from 1997-1999 (Abdula et al. 2000).

Morgans (1982) recorded only four individuals of this species at depths of 125-175 m in line catches from several research cruises from 1954-1959 on Kenya’s Malindi Banks. On the west coast of India, this species was known from the Kerala (south-west) coast of India, and was said to be quite common in trawl catches from 250-300m (Talwar and Kacker 1984). It is not mentioned by James et al. (1996) in a more recent review of catches on the Indian coast. Also more recently reported as not being very common in catches from southwest India (G. Mathew pers. comm. 2011). It is also reported in catches from the Topaze Bank in the Seychelles, but no additional information is available as they are not separated from other species (J. Robinson unpubl. data).

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Epinephelus chabaudi is found on reefs at depths of 9-55 m on the South African coast south of Durban (Smith 1958), and also at depths from 300-400 m. It was caught at depths from 125-200 m off Kenya (Morgans 1982); off Kerala in India it has been recorded between 250 and 300 m (Talwar and Kacker 1984). Its occurrence off the coasts of Kenya and India appears to be an example of 'tropical submergence' by which temperate species are able to live in the cooler deep-water zone at tropical latitudes (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

Morgans (1964) reported four large (104-137 cm, up to 41 kg) reproductively inactive female fish caught off the Malindi Banks in Kenya in November and December. There are anecdotal reports  of catches of large (~100 cm), reproductively active females from deep water (300-400 m) off the coast about 70 km south of Durban, South Africa (S. Fennessy unpubl. data); the cooccurrence of several reproductively active individuals at these depths suggests the possibility of shelf-edge spawning. Smaller (1-4 kg) fish are caught from line boats (depths unknown but probably around 20-50 m) further south in the Eastern Cape province (Fennessy et al. 2003), suggesting that there is southward drift of larvae in this region.

A total of 35 individuals (probably juveniles, lengths between 310 and 560 mm) have been tagged from boats in South African waters, mostly in the Eastern Cape province (B. Mann unpubl. data); six individuals have been recaptured, one of which was recaptured 1,200 km to the north in southern Mozambique (there is doubt about the validity of this distance but there is some confidence that the fish swam at least 600-700 km to the north over a period of 8.2 years, growing 320 mm during this time). Another individual was at liberty for 6.8 years but was recaptured 13 km from where it was tagged, and grew 340 mm in this time. This suggests growth is slow in this species.

There is no feeding data are available; Morgans (1982) reported that gut mesenteries contained nematodes and cestodes.


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Epinephelus chabaudi is caught on the bank slopes of the Seychelles at depth and gets lumped in either the 'other groupers' category, or in with E. multinotatus as they have the same creole names. The catch is probably minor as they are targeting deepwater snapper species, and the gear is very selective for the target species. It is not known whether the species aggregates to spawn (J. Robinson pers. comm. 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Fishing - most of the fishing effort in the region is small-scale, is largely unregulated and can generally be assumed to be increasing (e.g., Cunningham and Bodiguel 2006, Morgan 2006). The majority of the effort is concentrated on shallower reefs, so the deeper regions of this species’ habitat are less exploited, particularly by small-scale fishers. Deeper, offshore reefs are mainly accessed by commercial/semi-industrial vessels. With declining catches of reef fishes in South Africa, fishers are increasingly attempting to fish in deeper waters, made possible by improvements to fishing gear. Since 2000, commercial fishing in Mozambique has increased on deeper reefs – up to 190 m (Torres et al. 2003); fishing on deeper reefs is probably increasing throughout the region as shallower reefs are depleted.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In South Africa, E. chabaudi is part of a suite of restricted species, a maximum of five individuals of this species may be retained by recreational fishers in one day; no limits for commercial fishers. In Mozambique, a maximum of 10 individuals of demersal species may be retained by recreational fishers.

Only 225 km2 of reefs are no take-areas in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique (Wells et al. 2007); these areas are mostly located in shallow waters and it is not clear how much compliance there is. Most of the northern KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa is protected by a 145 km long Marine Protected Area (MPA) in which no demersal fishing is allowed, and which is strictly enforced. The record of at least one individual being caught in this area suggests that some degree of protection is afforded to this species in South Africa. This MPA and the southern Mozambique coast from Ponta d’Ouro to Maputo have been incorporated into a Transboundary MPA, with areas zoned for protection, which will offer further protection to this species. The Pondoland MPA in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, some 500 km further south, also provides protection.

Citation: Fennessy, S. & Craig, M.T. 2011. Epinephelus chabaudi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T195291A8954738. . Downloaded on 23 May 2018.
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