Trachinus draco 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Trachinidae

Scientific Name: Trachinus draco Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Greater Weever
French Grande Vive
Spanish Araña, Escorpión, Faneca Brava
Trachinus lineatus Bloch & Schneider, 1801

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-07-14
Assessor(s): Carpenter, K.E., Smith-Vaniz, W.F., de Bruyne, G. & de Morais, L.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B. & Soto, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Stump, E.

Trachinus draco is known from Morocco to Mauritania, to the Canary Islands and Madeira. Its range extends northward into the Mediterranean and Black Seas up the Atlantic coast to Norway and the northern part of the Danish Straits. The Greater Weever is a marine species commonly occurring and reproducing in Kattegat, and in the Baltic in the Belt Seas and the Sound. It is found at depths ranging from zero to 200 m. This species is locally abundant and widespread, and well researched. It is assessed as Least Concern. 

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Trachinus draco is known from Morocco to Mauritania, to the Canary Islands and Madeira. Its range extends northward into the Mediterranean and Black Seas up the Atlantic coast to Norway and the northern part of the Danish Straits (Whitehead et al. 1989). The Greater Weever is a marine species commonly occurring and reproducing in Kattegat, and in the Baltic in the Belt Seas and the Sound (HELCOM 2013 Red List Assessment Project). It is found at depths ranging from zero to 200 metres (Smith in press).

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Egypt; France; Georgia; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Guernsey; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Jersey; Lebanon; Libya; Malta; Mauritania; Monaco; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal (Madeira); Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovenia; Spain (Canary Is.); Sweden; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Greater Weever landings are declared from the following FAO regions: Northeast Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea. The overall trend in landings is one of dramatic fluctuations with a general increase in landings over time. The majority of landings are declared from the Northeast Atlantic fishing zone. Within this fishing zone, the majority of recent landings are declared by Sweden (FAO 2011).

In the waters of Kattegat, Denmark, T. draco is a commercial species which is used as bait and also for human consumption. Landings peaked at around 1,000 tonnes in 1957, and then gradually declined to around 100 tonnes in the early 1970s. After a subsequent peak to 500 tonnes, recent landings have declined to 40 tonnes. The catch record for Sweden is incomplete and appears well correlated to landings in Denmark. The pound-net fishery, which operated from May-September, accounted for 41% of the landings from 1952 to 1976. This fishery has mostly been abandoned in favour of trawl fishing, which occasionally target this species directly, but more often take it as bycatch (Bagge 2004).

In the Baltic Sea, both monitory data and commercial landings show a positive trend in the last decades. Swedish International Bottom Trawl Survey (IBTS) data in the Kattegat show no long term trend in sampling in the first quarter but data from the third quarter sampling between 1991 and 2010 show a strong increase after 2000. The same pattern is seen in a coastal bottom trawl monitoring in Kattegat. The German Acoustic survey only dates back to 1995 but shows the same pattern of increase in Kattegat as well as in Öresund and the Belt Seas in the 2000s. Swedish commercial landings from Kattegat 1999 and 2011 show a drastic increase from less than 10 tonnes yearly before 2006 to almost 800 tonnes in 2011 (HELCOM 2013 Red List Assessments).

In the Balearic Islands, T. draco was the most abundant member of the Trachinidae, captured with a 49% frequency of occurrence (Massutí and Reñones 2005). Trachinus draco accounted for 1.95% of the commercial catches taken in beach-seines in the Aegean coast of Turkey (Akyol et al. 2003). In a study of species and size selectivity in a Portuguese multi-species artisanal long-line fishery, T. draco was among the six species which contributed 81% of the total catch by weight, and there was no difference in size-selectivity detected (Erzini et al. 1996). In a study of length-weight relationships of fishes off the coast of Portugal, T. draco was the most abundant species collected. Individuals ranged in size from 11.8 to 39.6 cm, with a mean size of 24.3 cm (Santos et al. 2002).

The standardized mean catch rate of T. draco in the North Sea in 1906 to 1909 ranged from 178 fish/hour of fishing to 3.6 fish/hour of fishing, depending on the survey. From 1990 to 1995, T. draco was absent from surveys of the North Sea. It disappeared from the North Sea during a severe winter in the 1960s (Rijnsdorp et al. 1996, H. Heessen pers. comm. 2014). This species is very concentrated in the Kattegat and Skaggerak, as well as the Bay of Biscay (H. Heessen pers. comm. 2014, P. Fernandes pers. comm.). It is also common along the Iberian Peninsula, on soft bottoms (J. Herrera pers. comm. 2014).

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Trachinus draco burrows in the substrate, from the coastline to about 200 meters depth, but more commonly between 20 and 50 metres, migrating into deeper waters (to 100 m) during winter. It is pelagic at night (Muus and Nielsen 2000). It is most abundant in waters of moderate salinity, and has a preference for sandy bottoms (Damalas et al. 2010). A study by Demestre et al. (2000) suggests that this species is characteristic of habitats which are directly influenced by seagrass meadows, primarily Posidonia oceanica.

Trachinus draco reaches a maximum size of 53 cm (IGFA 2001), however it is more commonly seen to about 25 cm. In Denmark, both male and females reach spawning condition in July, and the spawning season is restricted from June to August, peaking in July. Females are slightly larger than males of similar age, and among the larger and older age groups females are more numerous. Males and females are difficult to separate at age one. The oldest individuals recorded in the Kattegat were 14 years old (Bagge 2004). In the Black Sea, the age of first maturity was over one year and the first reproduction length was 12.01 cm for females. The maximum age was six plus years for females and five plus years for males (Ak and Genç 2013). Mortality coefficients (F) are in the range 0.3 to 0.4. The correlations between fecundity, and length and weight were significant (n=57; 10-3 X F = 0.0031 X L3.1093; r2 = 0.543; 10-3 X F = 0.06243 X W - 2.2581; r2 = 0.5524; p<0.001). The first dorsal-fin spines and the spine on the gill cover are venomous. This species feeds chiefly on small invertebrates such as mysids and decapods, as well as small fishes (Smith in press).

The Greater Weever spawns during summer in shallow coastal waters with soft bottoms with sand or gravel. During winter it migrates to deeper area down to 150 m. This species often lays buried with just the eyes and tip of first dorsal fin exposed. The first dorsal fin rays, as well as the spine on the pre-operculum contains venomous spines protecting the species from predators. During night the Greater Weever leaves the burrow to feed on small invertebrates and fishes. Adults normally reach a total length of 25 cm.

Trachinids are littoral or benthic fishes which inhabit sandy or muddy bottoms, typically on the continental shelf but also at deeper depths of 150 to 200 metres. These fishes are typically encountered buried in the sediment with their eyes and venomous dorsal spines exposed. Envenomation can cause serious injuries or death. These fishes feed primarily on small invertebrates and fishes. Reproduction occurs during spring and summer. Eggs are oviparous and larvae are pelagic (Smith in press).


Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Trachinus draco is regularly found in local markets in Morocco, Canary Islands and Madeira. It is also found in some Spanish markets i.e. Huelva (J. Herrera pers. comm. 2014), Separate statistics are not reported for this species. It is caught mainly with bottom trawls and artisanal gear (e.g. traps, lines) and is marketed fresh (Smith in press). In the Black Sea, this species is mainly taken as bycatch with purse seines, bottom trawl, and gill nets (Ak and Genç 2013).

In Denmark, since at least 1834, this species has been landed as bycatch in poundnet fisheries which operate at depths which are generally <20 m depth. Specimens > 25 cm are considered a valuable export for human consumption. It is used as bait on longlines and for local human consumption, as well as for fodder for trout farming. An increase in trout farming after the second World War led to increasing demand for fodder, which led to increased effort in the Danish industrial fishery deploying small-meshed gear (Bagge 2004).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Trachinus draco is commercially important in parts of its range, and is taken as bycatch in trawl fisheries.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Trachinus draco is has not been and still is not in any way protected by legislation or management, although it moves little, grows slowly, has high catchability, and has been exposed to high total mortality (Bagge 2004).

Its distribution overlaps with marine protected areas.

Trachinus draco has undergone Regional Red List Assessment in the Baltic Sea. It was assessed as Least Concern due to increasing population trends between 1991 to 2010 detected by the fisheries-independent International Bottom Trawl Survey in the Kattegat, which is corroborated by trends in landings in the region (HELCOM 2013 Red List Assessment project).

Citation: Carpenter, K.E., Smith-Vaniz, W.F., de Bruyne, G. & de Morais, L. 2015. Trachinus draco. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T198719A42691954. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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