Epinephelus aeneus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus aeneus (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English White Grouper
French Mérou Blanc
Spanish Cherna De Ley
Cherna aenea Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817
Perca robusta Couch, 1832
Serranus aeneus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.). 2014. Catalog of Fishes. Updated 27 August 2014. Available at: (Accessed: 27 August 2014).
Taxonomic Notes: Perca robusta (Couch, 1832) was listed as a synonym of “Epinephelus guaza” (= E. marginatus) by Smith (1971), but Heemstra (1991) considered this species a synonym of E. aeneus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Thierry, C., Sadovy, Y., Fennessy, S., Choat, J.H., Ferreira, B., Bertoncini, A.A., Craig, M.T. & Rocha, L.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)
Although it is widespread, E. aeneus is assessed as Near Threatened as it has been heavily fished particularly in west African distribution and has mostly likely declined close to 30% throughout its range.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:General
E. aeneus can be found throughout the southern Mediterranean (up to 44°N in the Adriatic Sea) and along the west coast of Africa to southern Angola, including islands of the Gulf of Guinea. Records from the Canary Islands (Spain) and Cape Verde are unsubstantiated (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

Albania, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovenia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo Dem Rep, Congo Rep, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey and Western Sahara.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Angola; Benin; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Israel; Italy; Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Malta; Mauritania; Montenegro; Morocco; Nigeria; Portugal; Sao Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Spain; Syrian Arab Republic; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

E. aeneus was previously an abundant species, but has declined significantly in many parts of its range.

In the 1950s, E. aeneus was abundant along the south coast of Morocco (Furnestin et al. 1958).

On the basis of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and effort of maximization calculated from fishery data, Gascuel and Ménar (1997) classified E. aeneus in Senegal as an over-exploited species.

Glamuzina and Skaramuca (1999) described E. aeneus was very frequent found in the African-Mediterranean waters, but significantly rare in central areas, and not found in northern regions of the Mediterranean.

Froese (2004) suggested the stock of E. aeneus in Senegal is overfished based on three simple indicators (percentages of mature fish in catch, specimens with optimum length in catch and ‘mega-spawners’ in catch.

Fishery-dependent data by country
Between 1984 and 1986, artisanal captures of 3,870 tonnes of E. aeneus in Senegal were very strong, which surpassing the MSY. Since then, these captures reduced and reached their low-level of 1,135 tonnes in 1998 (Martial et al. 2002a). On the basis of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and effort of maximization (fMSY) calculated from fishery data, Gascuel and Ménar (1997) classified E. aeneus in Senegal as an over-exploited species, with fishing effort in 1991 as 2.7 times the fMSY. MSY of E. aeneus was estimated to be 3000 metric tonnes a year (Gascuel and Ménar 1997).

The percentage of mature E. aeneus has decreased from close to 80% in the early 1990s to about 38% in 1999. In the same period, the percentages of E. aeneus at optimum size and of mega-spawners have decreased from about 35% to less than 20%. These suggest that the stock is overfished (Froese 2004).

A range of stock assessment approaches show a decline in biomass of 80 to 90% from 1971 to 1999 as a result of excessive fishing effort (Laurens et al. 2002, 2003). Caught with a variety of fishing gear, including industrial trawls although this sector has contributed a maximum of 27% to landings (1990).

Total catch of E. aeneus in Senegal was 1,851 tonnes in 1991 (Gascuel and Ménar 1997).

MSY of E. aeneus in Senegal was estimated to be 3,000 metric tonnes a year by the surplus production model (Gascuel and Ménar 1997), with fishing effort in 1991 as 2.7 times the fMSY.

Saharan Bank, west Africa
E. aeneus accounted for 5.3% of the mean total abundance of landed fish in 1942 and declined to 0.001% in 1974. E. aeneus was not recorded during a cruise in 1990 (Balguerías et al. 2000).

More than 90% of female E. aeneus collected from 1970-1973 were sized 3-9 kg (Bruslé and Bruslé 1976).

Bouain et al. (1983) stated that E. aeneus comprised 90% of the uploading of fish in Sfax in Tunisia.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
Adults of E. aeneus occur on rocky or mud-sand bottom up to depths of 200 m, while juveniles have been taken in coastal lagoons and estuaries (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

Length and growth
Ezzat et al. (1981) revealed a linear relationship between total length (L) and scale radius (S): L = 0.1217+5.4420S.

Based on 104 E. aeneus collected from Gulf of Gabès in Tunsia, the von Bertalanffy growth equation was SL(cm)=204.34 (1-e(-0.039(Age+0.767)) (Bouain 1986).

In the west African waters, Longhurst (1960) found that its diet comprises of fishes (58%), stomatopods (21%), crabs (10%), and cephalopods (10%). Examination of commercially-caught specimen along Senegalese shore, stomach contents of E. aeneus (400 to 900 mm TL; n=161) suggested that Sardinella aurita and Octopus vulgaris were the preferential and accessory preys during the cold season, respectively. During the warm season, teleosts were abundantly ingested while mollusks (esp. Sepia officinalis) as an accessory prey with the crustacean Callinectes amincola be an occasional prey in the stomach of E. aeneus (Diatta et al. 2003).

E. aeneus is a protogynous hermaphrodite that female matures first at 50 to 60 cm TL and weigh about 3 kg for Tunisian fish. Most females change sex at about 9 kg, but smaller males (3 to 5 kg) are occasionally found (Bruslé 1985).

Based on histological examination on ovaries, Bouain and Siau (1983) suggested E. aeneus spawns in June and July in southeast Tunisian seashores.

Total potential fecundity was estimated to range from 789,436 ova in a 44 cm SL fish of 2.2 kg to 12,589,242 ova in a 87 cm SL fish of 12.6 kg (Bruslé 1985). Vadiya (1984) estimated “absolute fecundity” of a 93.5 cm, 8.6 kg E. aeneus in southeastern Mediterranean at 3,873,271 ova.

Bouain and Siau (1983) estimated the total potential fecundities of a 43.5 cm SL and 87 cm SL E. aeneus from southeastern Tunisian waters were 789,436 and 12,589,242 ripe oocytes, respectively.

750,000 to 1,200,000 eggs were produced by natural spawning in each of the five experiments (4 to 5 females and 3 to 4 males) in captivity, with an average of 80.2% of fertilization rate. (Gorshkova et al. 2002).

Bouain et al (1983) found that the largest fish of the Tunisian population was 115 cm TL, 25 kg, and was estimated to be 17 years old; females mature at 5 to7 years (1.5 to 3.0 kg, 50 to 60 cm TL) and sex change occurs at 10 to 13 years (6 to 15 kg, 80 to 110 cm TL)

Cury and Worms (1982) suggested the seasonal migratory behaviour of E. aeneus from Mauritania to Senegal. Cury and Roy (1988) noted that E. aeneus migrate and colonize protective areas from Mauritania to Senegal because of the onset of Senegalese upwelling and relaxation of the upwelling off Northern Mauritania. Glamuzina et al. (2000) suggested that E. aeneus is the process of colonization of new areas in the northern Mediterranean and Adriatic.
Generation Length (years):<10years

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): General
The major threat to E. aeneus is overfishing. It is highly esteemed in the market of West Africa (Maigret and Ly 1986) and typically caught with hook-and-line and in trawls (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

E. aeneus is heavily fished throughout its range by various methods from artisanal to industrial. It is consumed as food with considerable economic importance in fisheries of the Mediterranean and west coast of Africa (Heemstra and Randall, 1993). E. aeneus played an important role on the fish market in Senegal, mainly supplies by artisanal fishing. Fresh E. aeneus was produced in industrial scale and for export (Cury and Worms 1982). Cury and Worms (1982) recorded that E. aeneus only comprised a small amount in weight (83,557 kg, 3.7% of the total landing in Saint-Louis and 439,803 kg, 4.3% of the total in Kayar) but a relatively high monetary value of 11% and 17.6% of the total, respectively in 1980.

Aquaculture potential
Gorshkova et al (2002) suggested that broodstock management and larval culture seem to be the main deterrents for successful domestication of E. aeneus. Glamuzina and Skaramuca (1999) noted that juvenile E. aeneus (about 200 g) were adapted to aquarium conditions in Dubrovnik. Particularly good results of aquaculture on E. aeneus have been achieved in Israel (Hassin et al. 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are currently no conservation or management initiatives for this species. It probably occurs in a few marine protected areas within its range.

Citation: Thierry, C., Sadovy, Y., Fennessy, S., Choat, J.H., Ferreira, B., Bertoncini, A.A., Craig, M.T. & Rocha, L. 2008. Epinephelus aeneus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T132722A3432379. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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