Epinephelus cifuentesi (Galápagos Islands subpopulation)


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Epinephelus cifuentesi (Galápagos Islands subpopulation)
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Olive Grouper
French Mérou Poule
Spanish Gallina

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group)
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Kulbicki, M. (Grouper & Wrasse Red List Authority)
This grouper is of importance in the fishery of the Galápagos Islands, particularly the northern islands (Heemstra and Randall 1993). Population estimates are not available for any region within this species’ limited range but recent landings data are available from the Galápagos Islands. Landings data can be used as a proxy for changes in population size provided fishing effort, gear types, management regulations, etc., do not also change over time in a way that could cause landings to change accordingly. In this case, changes in annual landings from 1997 to 2003 are believed to be crudely representative of the population changes of E. cifuentesi in the Galápagos Islands (F. Nicolaides pers. comm. 2003).

Annual landings (in tons) of E. cifuentesi in the Galápagos Islands from 1997–2001 (Nicolaides et al. 2002, Murillo et al. 2002, Bautil et al. 2003) are as follows:

1997 - 7; 1998 - 14; 1999 - 4.6; 2000 - 2.7; 2001 - 2.8; 2002 - 2.7; and 2003 - 2.9.

A 59% landing decline occurred from 1997 to 2003, and a decline of 79% occurred from the peak year for landings in 1998 to 2003. The actual figures are very likely to be underestimates as they are derived from fishers’ log-books and fishers do not necessarily record all their catches (Nicolaides et al. 2002).

E. cifuentesi has a very restricted global distribution and the populations in the Galápagos are likely to be largely isolated from populations on the mainland (see Range and Population below). From the scale of the declines in landings, and the lack of an alternative explanation for them other than declines in population size, a population size reduction of > 30% over the past 10 years is suspected to have occurred, where the causes (actual exploitation) have not ceased (VU A2d). It may be that this species is worthy of Endangered status but more robust proxies for relative abundance of the population (such as catch per unit effort (CPUE)) are needed.

More data on biology, CPUE, population genetics of the species from Galápagos Islands, Isla del Coco, Costa Rican coast and eastern Pacific coast of Mexico are necessary to do a better assessment on a global and regional basis. Notwithstanding, considering the very restricted global distribution of E. cifuentesi, its relatively large size (to 100 cm TL) typically associated with high vulnerability to fishing in the Serranidae, and the probable genetic isolation for population from Galápagos Islands it seems appropriate to consider a precautionary approach, especially given enforcement problems, and to class this species as Vulnerable (A2d).

Data Necessary for a Global Assessment
Data are required from two other localities where E. cifuentesi also occurs, Isla del Coco, (Costa Rica) which is a marine protected area and no fishing is permitted, and also for the Costa Rican mainland. Although none of this species was seen in over 150 dives to 40 m in 1998 at Isla del Coco (G. Garrison pers. comm. 2004), the main depth range for this species is deeper than that so these observations are unlikely to represent true abundance. Furthermore, there are no fisheries data from the Costa Rican mainland (B. Bussing pers. comm. 2004). In view of this, it is not possible to complete a global assessment of this species at this time.

Francis Nicolaides (Charles Darwin Scientific Station in the Galápagos) provided much of the information for this assessment.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Epinephelus cifuentesi is an eastern Pacific species found only in the Galápagos Islands, Isla del Cocos (Costa Rica), and off the coast of Costa Rica (Heemstra and Randall 1993), as well as the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico (M. Craig pers. comm.), and a single record (148 mm SL and 78 g) from a market in Ecuador (Bearez and Jimenez Prado 2003).

This assessment is for the Galápagos Islands subpopulation only.
Ecuador (Galápagos)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – southeast
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: As the Galápagos Islands lie roughly 1,000 km off the coast of Costa Rica, the only other confirmed location for this grouper, it is highly likely there are at least two subpopulations, with minimal gene flow between them. This means that the subpopulation in the Galápagos is unlikely to receive substantial larvae from elsewhere that could replenish Galapágos stocks, should the population there be greatly reduced.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Depth range from 40–120 m (FishBase 2003). Size and/or age of sexual maturation is not known.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overfishing is the main threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: All waters around the Galápagos Islands are part of the Galapágos Marine Reserve and industrial fishing is prohibited. The reserve is zoned and artisanal fishing is allowed in some areas. However, management is difficult and illegal fishing is common (F. Nicolaides, pers. comm., 2003).

Bibliography [top]

Bautil B. and 7 authors. 2003. Monitoreo de las pesquerias que duran todo el ano en Galapagos. Servicio Parque Nacional Galapagos, Fundacion Charles Darwin. Trimester reports for 2003.

Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. 1993. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol. 16. Rome, FAO.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

Murillo, J.C., Espinoza, E., Edgar, G.J., Nicholaides, F. y Andrade, R. 2002. La Pesca artesanal en Galapagos: Comparacion de indicadores entre 1997-2001. Pp 77-86. En: Fundacion Natura-WWF (eds). Informe Galapagos 2001-2002, Quito, Ecuador.

Nicolaides, F., Murillo, J.C., Toral, M.V. y Reck, G. 2002. Bacalao. En: Danulat, E. y Edgar, G.J. (eds.). Reserva Marina de Galápagos. Línea Base de la Biodiversidad. Pp 146-165. Fundación Charles Darwin/Servicio Parque Nacional Galápagos, Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador.

Citation: Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group) 2004. Epinephelus cifuentesi (Galápagos Islands subpopulation). In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 July 2014.
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