Epinephelus quinquefasciatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus quinquefasciatus (Bocourt, 1868)
Common Name(s):
English Pacific Goliath Grouper
Epinephelus quinquefasciatus (Bocourt, 1868)
Serranus quinquefasciatus Bocourt, 1868
Taxonomic Notes:

Epinephelus quinquefasciatus was recently resurrected from populations of Epinephelus itajara in the eastern Pacific (Craig et al. 2009). 

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-03-03
Assessor(s): Erisman, B.
Reviewer(s): Craig, M.T. & Robertson, R.

Epinephelus quinquefasciatus is suspected to have undergone severe population reductions over the past three decades due to intense fishing pressure in the region. However, landings data across its range are often lumped into a single category “Groupers”. Therefore, species specific trends are generally not discernable. In addition, there is a general lack of fishery independent data for species abundance. It is likely that this species shares life-history characteristics with its sister species, E. itajara (Atlantic Goliath Grouper), which make it vulnerable to intense fishing pressure. In the absence of sufficient specific information regarding population declines, and in the presence of the threat of overfishing, this species is listed as Data Deficient


Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Epinephelus quinquefasciatus is known from the Gulf of California to Peru, including the Pacific coast of Baja California from Bahia Almejas south to Cabo San Lucas, and the Revillagegedo Islands.
Countries occurrence:
Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – southeast
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


There is little direct information available for population sizes of E. quinquefasciatus, however it is known from fisherman interviews and observed landings (in Mexico and Panama) that large adults (20-200 lbs) are almost never landed, whereas 20-30 years ago they were commonly taken (M.T. Craig, B. Erisman, D.R. Robertson pers. obs. 2000-present). In addition, small individuals are landed only occasionally where they fetch high market price (M.T. Craig, B. Erisman, D.R. Robertson pers. obs. 2000-present).

Sala et al. (2004) presented annual landings and Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) data for this species from commercial fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Their data showed a rapid increase in catch and CPUE between 1960 and 1980, which was followed by a rapid decline in both parameters. According to the same study, both landings and CPUE have been close to zero in this region since the 1990s.

A recent study by Vasquez-Hurtado et al. (2010) indicated that 88 t of Goliath Grouper were landed by artisanal fishers in La Paz Bay, Gulf of California, Mexico between 1998 and 2005. However, that report has been strongly contested, and it has been argued that this is a case of a misidentified species (B. Erisman and M.T. Craig pers. comm. 2011). The species reported was likely Mycteroperca jordani, another large grouper that is known to be more abundant and provides small landings in this region. La Paz Bay is also currently being studied (B. Erisman and M.A. Aburto pers. comm. 2011)  and there have never been any observed or recorded any landings of Goliath Grouper (2003-2011).

Fishery Independent: Annual underwater surveys conducted by Enric Sala, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, and others on rocky reefs throughout the Gulf of California from 1999 to the present (2011; 50-100 reefs per year) and have never observed E. quinquefasciatus on any dives (B. Erisman pers. comm. 2011).

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Juveniles and subadults inhabit bays, lagoons, and estuaries. Adults typically inhabit offshore reefs although may also be present in habitat similar to juveniles.

Life history characteristics are unknown for this species. However, it is suspected that it may share similar life history characters to its sister species, E. itajara, in the Atlantic. That species does not mature until it is ~1 m long and is known to form spawning aggregations. The known size composition of E. itajara in the Atlantic is similar to the modest landings observed for E. quinquefasciatus in the Pacific and is dominated by specimens below 50 cm total length. This results in a large proportion of immature fish being removed from the standing stock.


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Epinephelus quinquefasciatus is utilized as a food resource on a national and subnational level.



Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Fishing pressure is the main threat to E. quinquefasciatus throughout its range. Any large, approachable, edible fish on the shorelines throughout the species range is vulnerable to the heavily populated areas lining its distribution with a high abundance of subsistence fishers. Thus, this species inevitably represents a highly desirable target, whether directly targeted or taken opportunistically. This species was reported to be a prime target of commercial and recreational spearfishers in the Gulf of California during the 1970s-1990s, which is believed to have contributed to its demise in the region (Sala et al. 2004, B. Erisman pers obs.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The species' range includes some marine protected areas. In Mexico, serranid fishes (which includes the Epinephelidae by their definition) have recently been assigned a specific management category separate from other finfishes. However, no specific management plan or conservation regulations exist for this species in Mexico.

Citation: Erisman, B. 2011. Epinephelus quinquefasciatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T195292A8954941. . Downloaded on 15 August 2018.
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