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Epinephelus fuscoguttatus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII PERCIFORMES EPINEPHELIDAE

Scientific Name: Epinephelus fuscoguttatus
Species Authority: (Forsskål, 1775)
Common Name(s):
English Brown-marbled Grouper
French Mérou Marron
Spanish Mero Manchado
Synonym(s):
Epinephelus fuscoguttatus (Forsskål, 1775)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group)
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Cabanban, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Red List Authority)
Justification:
Epinephalus fuscoguttatus is inherently vulnerable to fishing and heavily sought for the live reef food fish trade. It can be cultured by hatcheries but is still extensively taken from the wild (and marketed as adults or large juveniles or removed from the wild as small juveniles and grown out to market size in captivity) including from spawning aggregations in many cases. It is ciguatoxic in some areas which probably means reduced pressure on this species although many toxic fish of this species are periodically brought in live to Hong Kong making people sick (South China Post newspaper articles). The NT designation is intended to be precautionary and to signal that this species is inherently vulnerable to fishing (it is a large species and aggregates to spawn) and is quite desirable but is little monitored or managed. We need to seek more information on this species to permit a full assessment. (Follow the link below to see a summary of known information on regional status and trade statistics).
For further information about this species, see 44673_Epinephelus_fuscoguttatus.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Epinephelus fuscoguttatus is an Indo-Pacific species, ocurring in the Red Sea, along the east coast of Africa to Mozambique, east to Samoa and the Phoenix Islands, north to Japan, and south to Australia. It is unknown from the Persian Gulf, Hawaii, and French Polynesia. It is also recorded from Hibernia Reef, Timor Sea, south of Timor-Leste (B. Russell, pers. comm).

(See modelled map for Australian distribution).

Spawning aggregations are known from Palau, Pohnpei (Micronesia), outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Australia), Komodo National Park (Indonesia), Dumbea (New Caledonia), and Fiji.
Countries:
Native:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago); Comoros; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; India (Andaman Is.); Indonesia; Israel; Japan (Nansei-shoto); Jordan; Kenya; Kiribati; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius (Rodrigues); Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Northern Mariana Islands; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Réunion; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Occurs in lagoon pinnacles, channels, and outer reef slopes, in coral-rich areas and with clear waters. Juveniles occur in seagrass beds. Forms spawning aggregations.

Males are easily available for natural spawning in Singapore (Chao et al. 1993). In Palau, sampled mature males ranged in size from 698–870 mm total length, mature females from 420 to 850 mm (Johannes et al. 1999).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Fishing and habitat destruction of seagrass beds and coral reefs (Burke et al. 2002, Hodgson and Liebeler 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: From the 1980s, the Pohnpei State Government began implementing measures to reduce fishing effort on groupers, including a partial sales ban during the spawning season (March to April), but subsistence fishing on aggregations continued during the closed season, with fish being frozen until the end of the ban. Also the ban may have little overall effect since aggregation sites in close proximity to population centers can be targeted outside the ban period. In 1995, the Kehpara Marine Sanctuary was established, but the northwest boundary fell short of covering Camouflage Grouper or Brown-marbled Grouper aggregations, so fishing continued. No foreign fishing vessels are allowed and entry restriction for divers at one site, but aggregations extend at least one month beyond protection (Reef fish spawning aggregations working group 2002). Also monitored in Pohnpei Conservation and Monitoring of Reef Fish Spawning Aggregation Site programme, a total of 1,085 individuals were recorded during monitoring in three days of March 2001 full moon (Pet et al., pers. comm. 2001).

In Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, the majority of individuals interviewed had a strong awareness of their ability to overfish fish stocks, with ensuring the future sustainability of resources being the predominant reasons for implementing management strategies. Dynamiting is prohibited under customary law and also at a national and provincial level, night time spearfishing at a known spawning aggregation site is prohibited under customary law. However, some young fishermen ignore the night time spearfishing ban. In Buka Island, the power of community leaders to enforce closures within their respective communities appears to have declined considerably in recent years (Hamilton 2003).

In Komodo Marine Park, Indonesia, spawning aggregation protected zones with seasonal closure recommended for traditional use zones (Reef fish spawning aggregations working group 2002).

In Australia, a size limit of a minimum 35 cm and a specific group combined bag limit on this species, applying across all sectors of the coral reef fin fish fishery including commercial and recreational fishers and charter boat operators have been proposed in the Draft Fisheries (Coral Reef Fin Fish) Management Plan in Queensland, minimum size limits are set at a point which allows at least half of the fish in a population to reach reproductive maturity and spawn before they are available for harvest.

In the Solomon Islands, a management plan for the live reef fish trade was drafted in Honiara, seeking to totally protect the spawning aggregations of E. fuscoguttatus by placing a ban on aggregation fishing for five days either side of the new moon during the three months of the year when aggregations are known to form (Donnelly 2001). The LRFFT interim licence conditions was revised in 2002 (Oreihaka, pers. comm., 2003), and a recent article in the SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin (Samoilys 2002) stated that the management plan drafted in 2001 was yet to be implemented.

In Palau, the Marine Protection Act of 1994 prohibits sale or purchase of E. fuscoguttatus from April 1 through July 31 each year, intended to protect spawning aggregation. In 1995 the Act was amended to prohibit any capture of these groupers even for subsistence purpose in the closed period (Johannes et al. 1999). A four-month ‘bul’ (taboo) was enforced in the state of Ngeremlengui, but was not completely effective in preventing fishing on the spawning aggregation, which was said by fishermen to be much smaller than they were ten years ago (Johannes 1999). Exports are monitored, no foreign fishing vessels allowed and entry restriction for divers at one site, species may probably still be in fair condition, but aggregations extend at least one month beyond protection (i.e., into August) (Reef fish spawning aggregations working group 2002).

In Malaysia, marine parks were established under the Fisheries Act of 1985 for the protection, preservation, and management of natural breeding grounds and habitat of aquatic life. Although this is a general clause, most of the marine parks are situated on coral reefs which are the habitats of this and other serranids.

Citation: Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group) 2004. Epinephelus fuscoguttatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 August 2014.
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