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Takifugu xanthopterus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII TETRAODONTIFORMES TETRAODONTIDAE

Scientific Name: Takifugu xanthopterus
Species Authority: (Temminck & Schlegel, 1850)
Common Name(s):
English Yellowfin Puffer
Synonym(s):
Fugu xanthopterus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1850)
Tetraodon xanthopterus Temminck & Schlegel, 1850

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2011-06-10
Assessor(s): Lyczkowski-Shultz, J., Leis, J.L., Jing, L., Hardy, G., Liu, M. & Matsuura, K.
Reviewer(s): Zapfe, G. & Shao, K.
Contributor(s): Stump, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Carpenter, K.E., Comeros-Raynal, M., Harwell, H. & Sanciangco, J.
Justification:
Takifugu xanthopterus is widely distributed in the northwest Pacific, and is known from southern Japan, the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, and the East and South China seas, including Taiwan, at depths ranging from one to 100 metres. It appears to be locally abundant in parts of its range It is a commercially important species. In Japan it is one of the top four Fugu species. Habitat modification in estuaries is occurring in parts of its range snf we infer that these events are contributing to population declines in parts of its range. However, declines are not approaching the thresholds for a threatened category. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. We recommend monitoring of its habitat status in the near future, population status, harvest and trade levels. Due to the economic importance of the Takifugu genus, and the prevalence of taxonomic uncertainty within this group, we recommend further taxonomic studies utilizing both molecular and morphological methods.
History:
1996 Data Deficient

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: In the Northwest Pacific, T. xanthopterus is known southern Japan and the East China Sea. In China, it occurs in Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, and the East and South China seas, including Taiwan (Su and Li 2002, Nakabo 2002). Takifugu xanthopterus has occasionally been reported from off Primorye Krai, Russia (Kolpakov and Kolpakov 2003, Kolpakov 2007), during warmer years. It has been recorded at depths ranging from zero to 100 metres.
Countries:
Native:
China; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Taiwan, Province of China
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Pacific – northwest
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population structure
Due to their relatively recent divergence times, Takifugu interspecific crosses produced by artificial and natural fertilization in both natural and laboratory settings were found to be viable (Fujita 1967, Masuda et al. 1991, Miyaki et al. 1995, Kai et al. 2005). Each combination of Takifugu species is expected to produce fertile hybrid crosses (Yamanoue et al. 2008). Molecular phylogenetic studies revealed sister relationships between T. xanthopterusT. vermicularis, and T. niphobles (Song et al. 2001). Natural hybrids of T. xanthopterus and T. vermicularis have been recorded from in Ariake Bay, Kyushu, Japan (Masuda et al. 1991).

Other population information
In 1979 and 1980, juvenile and adult T. xanthoperus ranging from 7.7–9.0 mm were the fourteenth most numerically dominant species in Honmyo estuary of the Isahaya area, an altered estuarine area. Surveys from 2005–2006 found this species to be most abundant in upper estuarine areas characterized by brackish, highly turbid waters with high tidal velocities and high species richness and density (Yagi et al. 2010). Young form large schools in shallow waters and adults migrate to deeper waters (K. Matsuura pers. comm. 2011). Takifugu xanthopterus is moderately common in Hong Kong waters, and is the most common pufferfish in trawlers in the western Hong Kong waters, near estuaries of the Pearl River. It is also common in Chinese waters and the Taiwan Strait (M. Liu and J. Lui pers. comm. 2011).

Habitat modification in estuaries is occurring in parts of its range and we infer that these events are contributing to population declines in parts of its range. Declines are not approaching the thresholds for a threatened category, but we recommend monitoring of its habitat status in the near future.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Takifugu xanthopterus occurs in the sublittoral zone and estuaries, on rock bottoms (Yamada et al. 1995). In 1979 and 1980, juveniles and adults of this species ranging from 7.7– 9.0 mm were the fourteenth most numerically dominant species in Honmyo estuary of the Isahaya area, an altered estuarine area. Surveys from 2005–2006 found this species to be most abundant in upper estuarine areas characterized by brackish, highly turbid waters with high tidal velocities and high species richness and density (Yagi et al. 2010). This species has been found in the mouth area and lower reaches of the Tumen River in Russia (Oksyuzyan and Sokolovsky 2003). Naturally occurring hybrids of T. vermicularis and T. xanthopterus have been observed from Ariake Bay, Kyushu, Japan (Masuda et al. 1991). Takifugu xanthopterus is known to bio-accumulate tetrodotoxin (TXX) in moderate concentration in the livers and ovaries (Noguchi et al. 2006). The ovaries and liver are highly toxic, the intestine is slightly toxic, and the flesh, skin and testes are innocuous (Nakabo 2002). This species has also been found to contain a non-toxic derivative of TTX in its liver, which is thought to be a precursor or metabolite of TTX (Nagashima et al. 2006).

The genus Takifugu speciated and radiated in marine waters around China, Korea, and Japan. The highest species density is found in the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, and East China Sea, followed by the Sea of Japan and Pacific Coast of Japan, and finally by the South China Sea. Several species have been reported from the Indian Ocean (Yamanoue et al. 2008).

Tetraodontids are characterized by a tough skin that is often covered with small spinulous scales, a beak-like dental plate divided by a median suture, a slit-like gill opening anterior to the base of the pectoral fin, no pelvic fins, no fin spines, a single usually short-based dorsal fin, a single usually short-based anal fin, and no ribs. They are capable of inflating their abdomens with water when frightened or disturbed and are capable of producing and accumulating toxins such as tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin in the skin, gonads, and liver. The degree of toxicity varies by species, and also according to geographic area and season (Allen and Randall 1977, Allen and Erdmann 2012). Fishes in the family Tetraodontidae have the smallest vertebrate genomes known to date (Neafsey and Palumbi 2003).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Takifugu xanthopterus, also known as "Shima-fugu" in Japan, is commercially targeted for the consumptive pufferfish trade, and is among the top four fugu species. In Japan, pufferfish are caught primarily using modified longlines which are attractive to novice fishermen due to their ease of use (Kawata 2012). Additionally, T. xanthopterus is used in Chinese medicine (Tang 1987). This species has undergone population declines in parts of its range from harvesting, however, this is not inferred to reach the thresholds for a threatened category. Despite a ban on the sale of toxic pufferfishes in fish markets, T. xanthopterus may sometimes found in processed fish products in Taiwan (Huang et al. 2014).

Aquaculture
Fishes of the genus Takifugu have become the focus of increasing aquaculture efforts throughout East Asia. Aquacultured Takifugu are used to meet increasing demand for pufferfish products and to enhance natural populations which have been depleted throughout the region (Kawata et al. 2012). Takifugu pufferfishes, principally represented by the tiger puffer, Takifugu rubripes, are raised in floating net pens in Japan, Korea, and China (Belle and Nash 2009).

The total wild catch of pufferfish species in Japan has been relatively stable, ranging from 7,800 to 11,000 tonnes from 1995 to 2002. The four most common species consumed in Japan are T. rubripes, T. snyderi, T. chinensis, and T. porphreus. Aquaculture efforts focus on T. rubripes, which ranks fifth among marine aquacultured species (the top aquacultured species in Japan are: Yellowtail (Seriola quinqueradiata), Red Sea Bream (Pagrus major), coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Japanese flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus). Although highly valuable (the market price of T. puffer  is 1.5 times that of Japanese flounder, three times that of yellowtail or seabream), the value began to decrease rapidly from the late 1990s onwards due to importation of Tiger puffer from China. In Japan, the majority of fingerlings produced in commercial hatcheries are then raised in floating net cages for direct consumption. About 15 million fingerlings are produced by commercial hatcheries for aquaculture, 1.5 times higher than the amount produced for release for stock enhancement by semi-governmental hatcheries in 1999 (Kikuchi 2006). One of the most serious problems in the net cage aquaculture of tiger puffer is high mortality (survival is estimated to be less than 50%) from outbreaks of parasitic diseases (Ogawa and Inouye 1997).

Tiger puffer (T. rubripes) was introduced to China from Japan (Lin and  Huang 2007). To meet increasing demand for pufferfish, China began large-scale artificial breeding of pufferfish in the 1990s. An annual output of about 4000 tonnes of T. rubripes, which was introduced from Japan to China (Lin and Huang 2007) is exported to Japan and South Korea. Additionally, an annual output of about 6000 tonnes of T. obscurus was also produced for export in China. Pufferfishes are still landed in China, mostly in Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and other places. Nationwide, the total output of pufferfish is now around 20,000 tonnes per year (Ma et al. 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species has experienced population declines in parts of its range from harvesting, however, this is not inferred to reach thresholds for a threatened category.

Takifugu xanthopterus may be threatened by coastal habitat degradation and overfishing in parts of its range.

Fugu fishery
The Fugu fishery is acknowledged to have undergone significant declines throughout East Asia. Highly effective fishing gear, including modified long-lines and nets with small mesh sizes, rather than excessive fishing effort, have been implicated in the depletion of Takifugu pufferfish resources in parts of East Asia. In Japan, initial efforts to regulate the fishery in the mid-2000s had not achieved desired results by 2010, and were subsequently re-evaluated (Kawata 2012). Although the species-specific effects of the Fugu fishery on T. xanthopterus are unknown, it is likely that populations of this commercially important species are impacted by this fishery.

Genetic effects of cultured fish on natural populations
Fishes of the genus Takifugu have become the focus of increasing aquaculture efforts throughout East Asia. Aquacultured Takifugu are used to meet increasing demand for pufferfish products and to enhance natural populations which have been depleted throughout the region (Kawata et al. 2012). As culture fish are genetically distinct from natural populations, the release of aquacultured fish can result in a range of genetic outcomes, from no detectable effect to complete introgression or displacement of wild populations (Hindar et al. 1991). Fishes of the genus Takifugu are relatively recently diverged, and each combination of Takifugu species is expected to produce fertile hybrid crosses (Yamanoue et al. 2008). The intentional and unintentional release of cultured Takifugu may impact the genetic integrity of wild populations.

Regional threats: environmental degradation and over-fishing
Major threats to biodiversity of the China seas include over-exploitation of fishery resources and environmental deterioration. The China Seas have faced severe environmental degradation due to a range of anthropogenic activities within a relatively recent and short time frame (Daoji and Daler 2004). The degradation of estuarine environments due to pollution and coastal production is of particular concern, as these areas are characterized by high productivity and represent spawning and nursery areas for many species (Liu 2013). Large areas of the China Seas (Liu 2013) and the Gulf of Thailand (Blaber 2000) are considered to be heavily overfished. Additionally, heavy bottom-trawling in the 1980s and the widespread use of modified driftnets for multi-species fisheries in the Bohai Sea, combined with other anthropogenic stresses, have been implicated in the steady decrease in fish landings in this area (Xianshi 2004). In the Yellow Sea, previously dominant large demersal species became the targets of heavy fishing pressure during the 1950s and 1960s and greatly declined in abundance. By the 1980s, many large pelagic species were also showing great declines in abundance, and since that time the dominant species in the Yellow Sea have been small, planktivorous pelagic species, such as anchovies and sardines (Jin and Tang 1996). In the Yellow Sea all ecological indexes such as the species number, species richness, species diversity and the evenness were lower in the year 2000 than in the year 1985 (Lin et al. 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

There are no known species-specific conservation measures in place for Takifugu xanthopterus. However, it is possible that management efforts aimed at sustaining T. rubripes fisheries have benefited T. xanthopterus.

Fugu Fishery
The Fugu fishery is acknowledged to have undergone significant declines. Japan, South Korea and China previously operated their fisheries under a policy which prevented the regulation of foreign fishing vessels and treated the open sea in East Asia as common property. Since 1999, with the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and new fishery agreements between these nations, this policy has shifted to enable coastal countries to regulate foreign fishing vessels. As a result of this policy shift, Japan announced the Plan for Rebuilding Puffer Resources in April 2005, which set dates for an off-fishing season, restrictions on minimum body size, support for stock-enhancement programs, improvements to fishing grounds, and mandated the release of small fishes. As of 2010, stocks had not fully improved, prompting a re-assessment of the program. Several recommendations have been made in order to ensure its continued existence, particularly in light of socio-economic constraints which limit the possibility of developing alternative fisheries. Recommendations include gear restrictions and mandating that fishers catch older and heavier fish by postponing the beginning of the fishing season (Kamara 2012).

In order to sustain fisheries of the East China Sea, the government of China has implemented a number of management and conservation measures. These include establishing a prohibited-fishing zone along the 5 m depth contour, the establishment of seventeen national nature reserves and five special marine protected areas, the creation of fishery protected areas which are annually closed to trawling, and summer closed-fishing area, which prohibit trawling and have been extended to the South China sea, Yellow Sea, and Bohai Sea (Cheng et al. 2007).

Extinction Risk Assessment
Takifugu xanthopterus
was previously assessed in 1996 by IUCN and was found to be Data Deficient (Roberts 1996)

Further Research
The economically important genus Takifugu has been recommended for further taxonomic studies based on morphological and molecular analyses (Yamanoue et al. 2009), and we support this recommendation.


Citation: Lyczkowski-Shultz, J., Leis, J.L., Jing, L., Hardy, G., Liu, M. & Matsuura, K. 2014. Takifugu xanthopterus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 November 2014.
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