Epinephelides armatus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Epinephelides armatus
Species Authority: (Castelnau, 1875)
Common Name/s:
English Black-arse Cod, Breaksea Cod, Tiger Cod

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. & Russell, B. (Grouper & Wrasse Red List Authority)
The Breaksea Cod is a poorly studied grouper endemic to Western Australia. It is primarily taken by the recreational fishery (J. St John, pers. comm., 2003) and is common in mixed reef catches with hook and line (Prokop 2002). There are no data from the commercial fishery as this species has only recently been recorded as a separate species to other groupers (J. St John, pers. comm. 2003). Breaksea Cod taken by the recreational fishery were between 2 and 21 years old. Of those, the strongest age class were 4 year olds with all ages between 2 and 13 years well represented (Eastman 2001). A catch curve constructed from this data revealed that total mortality Z = 0.26, which is below acceptable fishing pressure and indicates the species is not being overexploited (J. St John pers. comm. 2003).

Although the Breaksea Cod does not appear to be overexploited at present, there are several reasons to indicate this species could be vulnerable to overexploitation in the future and as such, should be re-assessed at regular intervals.

1). The species has a relatively small global distribution.
2). It occurs in shallow waters, and is easy to catch by the recreational fishery (Prokop 2002) which has increased dramatically in recent years (J. St John pers. comm. 2003).
3). Like many other groupers, the Breaksea cod is large (> 50 cm max. length), slow to mature (3–4 years) and long-lived (> 20 years) making it vulnerable to overexploitation.
4). The youngest individuals taken by the recreational fishery were not sexually mature.
5). There are no restrictions on the commercial fishery.

In contrast, it is reassuring that data from the commercial fishery is now being collected and that the species is solely distributed in Australia, a nation that places great emphasis on trying to manage its fisheries sustainably.

This species is classified as Near Threatened as current data indicates a population reduction of ≥30% is possible (but neither definite nor probable) due to fishing over a 10 year or three generation period where the time period includes both past and the future i.e., just misses IUCN Criteria VU A4d.

Jill St. John (Department of Fisheries, W.A. Marine Research Laboratories) provided important data for this assessment.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Epinephelides armatus occurs in southeast Indian Ocean, where it is endemic to western Australia from Recherche Archipelago to Shark Bay (Hutchins and Swainston 1986, Prokop 2002).
Australia (Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: "A relatively common inshore species" (Prokop 2002). No other information is available.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: "Inhabits coastal reefs of south-western Australia, where it is commonly encountered by both anglers and divers" (Hutchins and Swainston 1986). "Often found around bommies and shallow reefs" ( Prokop 2002). "An inquisitive species, it readily approaches divers, but is also sighted resting on the bottom" (Hutchins and Swainston 1986). Grows to a maximum length of 56 cm (FishBase 2003).

Females can spawn from 231 mm, at the age of 3, with 50% mature at 260 mm. Males can spawn from 272 mm, at the age of 4, with 50% mature at 360 mm (Eastman 2001).

There is no evidence that this species forms spawning aggregations (J. St. John, pers. comm. 2003), as do some other large groupers, a trait that increases vulnerability to overexploitation.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overfishing is the only threat known at present.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is a recreational bag limit of four fish per day for E. armatus but no commercial or other restrictions (J. St John pers. comm. 2003).

Bibliography [top]

Eastman A. 2001. Age, growth and reproductive biology of the Breaksea Cod Epinephelides armatus. Honours thesis, Curtin University of Technology, Australia 67pp

Hutchins, B. and Swainston, R. 1986. Sea fishes of southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Swainston, Perth, Australia.

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

Prokop F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Australian Fishing Network, Victoria, Australia. 2nd reprint. Pp 224

Citation: Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group) 2004. Epinephelides armatus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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