Epinephelus polylepis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus polylepis Randall & Heemstra, 1991
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Smallscaled Grouper
French Mérou Petites Écailles
Spanish Mero Escamoso
Taxonomic Notes: Confused with E. chlorostigma for many years throughout its range, particularly in India. Only first described in 1991, having been misidentified as E. chlorostigma since 1895.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Samoilys, M., Craig, M.T., Choat, J.H., Ferreira, B., Bertoncini, A.A. & Rocha, L.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)
Epinephelus polylepis is listed as Near Threatened and although it has a wide range, it is known to have been heavily fished in many parts of its range. There is insufficient data on population trends to determine the extent of decline, although it is likely to be close to 30%.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Epinephelus polylepis is known from West coast of India to Yemen coast, but the range may be greater (Randall and Heemstra 1991). However, it does not occur in the Maldives (Anderson pers. comm. 31st Jan 2007).
Countries occurrence:
Bahrain; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Kuwait; Oman; Pakistan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):155
Upper depth limit (metres):10
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

The population status of Epinephelus polylepis is not well known through its range, in part due to misidentification as E. chlorostigma.

Fisheries-dependent data
It is likely to be part of the 'perch' fishery of west India which has operated since the 1960s (James et al. 1996).

“From monthly sampling at Dibba fish market in Musandam, northern Oman, from March 2004 to March 2005, we found E. polylepis accounted for only 1.4% (in abundance) of all grouper species landed. During the same period, monthly surveys from Muscat (central Oman) reveal E. polylepis accounted for 14% of the total number of grouper landed at the primary landing site at Muttrah” (J. McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).

"This species along with E. gabriellae and E. diacanthus is one of the most commonly caught grouper by the Industrial fishery sector which operates foreign-owned and manned trawlers in the Arabian Sea. Unfortunately the Ministry of Fisheries, in compiling their official fisheries statistics, pool all serranid species into one category. In the past 10 yrs the total grouper catch across both the traditional and industrial sectors averages 3,200 t, which has been steadily increasing despite strong evidence from traditional fishermen that CPUE has declined significantly over the same period" (J. McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).

UAE – stock assessment data may be available from Bruce Shallard Ltd. (Simon Wilson pers. comm. 2007).

Apparently common off Oman in the Arabian Sea (Bianchi 1987 pers. comm. Cited in Randall and Heemstra 1991, and J. Kemp pers. comm. 1st Feb 2007).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
Epinephelus polylepis is observed in 10 to 15 m quite frequently, although only along the southern Oman and eastern Yemen coast (J. Kemp pers. comm.).

Epinephelus polylepis is caught from 33 to 100 m in trawls (Randall and Heemstra 1991).

Surveys conducted off Muscat using baited remote underwater videos showed their preferred habitat was small rocky outcrops in depths from 70 to 155 m, which is supported by traditional fishermen and recreational fishermen from Muscat (Gulf of Oman) who say the species is difficult to catch because it inhabits deep water (>80 m) and prefers rocky outcrops. In contrast Epinephelus polylepis is caught in large numbers in the Arabian Sea in >50 m water. "I think the deep water habitat, in which this species is found at locations in the Gulf of Oman, is difficult for fishermen to access, which may inadvertently be offering some refuge to overfishing". This is also suggested in the age structure of this species from the Gulf of Oman where there were many individuals >10 yrs of age, compared to the age structure of samples taken from the Arabian Sea where there were fewer fish >10 yrs, with the sample comprised primarily of 3 to 5 yr old individuals. Though it is also possible that greater fishing pressure in the Arabian Sea has truncated the age structure, removing the older/larger individuals (McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).

Sex change parameters (sex ratio fished and unfished, size of sex change, type of hermphroditism, etc.): M:F – 1:5
diandric protogynous hermaphroditism (McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).
Generation Length (years):<10years

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): General
Epinephelus polylepis is primarily threatened by overfishing and it is taken by trawl, and probably handline.

It is threatened by fishing pressure in the Arabian Sea coast of Oman, which is probably quite high and may have truncated the age structure of population compared with the lighter fishing pressure in the Gulf of Oman where fish are older (McIlwain pers. comm. 2007). Threats in the rest of its range not known.

In Oman there are no restrictions on the effort or numbers or size of E. polylepis in the traditional commercial fishing sector (mixed gear). But there is some effort control in the industrial trawl fishery in that only 13 boats are allowed to operate at any one time and there is a TAC quota allocated each year across all species. However there is evidence that this quota is regularly exceeded due to the lack of enforcement (McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).

Traditional fishermen from Muscat (Gulf of Oman) rarely take this species because it is difficult to catch because it inhabits deep water (>80 m) and prefers rocky outcrops. Local recreational fishermen from Muscat target this species during fishing competitions (McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).

E. polylepis is caught in large numbers in the Arabian Sea by both traditional and artisanal fishermen and by the industrial trawlers which operate in >50 m water (McIlwain pers. comm. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Fisheries regulations for Epinephelus polylepis are in place for several countries within its range, but enforcement is probably weak. There are no protected area within its range.

Citation: Samoilys, M., Craig, M.T., Choat, J.H., Ferreira, B., Bertoncini, A.A. & Rocha, L. 2008. Epinephelus polylepis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T132753A3441588. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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