Fisheries data indicate Epinephelus irroratus to be quite abundant and not in decline. No decrease in either the catch per unit effort (CPUE) in number (between 10 to 30 fish per boat trip according to the duration of the trip), or the mean weight (1.8 kg, there is some uncertainty regarding this weight which was not possible to clarify) has been observed over several years (C. Ponsonnet pers. comm. 2003).
There are no limitations on fishing effort such as size limits, but the fishing activities in the Marquesan archipelago are not intensive. All production is sold locally with no export. As such, the exploitation level of E. irroratus is low and the species is not believed to be threatened (C. Ponsonnet pers. comm. 2003).
E. irroratus shows at least two characteristics that suggest it could be naturally susceptible to extinction and therefore updates on status are advised whenever possible. Firstly, it has a very limited distribution and secondly, it is a grouper and other species of grouper have consistently been shown to be vulnerable to exploitation (by being easily caught, being long-lived and slow to reach sexual maturation). However, the Marquesan Grouper is a relatively small species and thus is likely to reach sexual maturity faster than many of the larger species that are easily overfished. Although such basic biological data are not available, limited CPUE data, which is very useful in determining population declines, is available and suggests fishing pressure is low enough to not be reducing the population size at present. Finally, E. irroratus, occurs to depths considerably deeper that those that can be reached by free-diving or SCUBA which will provide some protection against spearfishers. As the population is being monitored, and as available data suggests population size is stable this species is categorized as Least Concern. If exports should begin for this species, this would merit a closer look at its status as the limited distribution is the major point of concern for this species.
Cedric Ponsonnet (Service de la Peche, Papeete, Tahiti) supplied all the recent information on which this assessment is based.