Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species
Comments: Intense fishing of spawning aggregations has severely threatened the viability of the species in particular locations (Olsen and LaPlace 1978; Aguilar-Perera 1990; Fine 1990; Sadovy 1990, in press; Luckhurst 1996). For example, the decline in Bermuda is due to the intensive fishing of spawning aggregations with fish pots (Luckhurst 1996), and the decline in spawning aggregation size off Bay Islands, Honduras, is attributable to intense fishing of spawning aggregations (Fine 1990). In the 1960s, the introduction of spearguns led to sharp declines in aggregations; speargun fishing removes reproductively active individuals and likely affects future fishery yields. Removal of larger individuals could lead to a lack of experienced adults to lead first time spawners to spawning areas (Stevenson et al., in press). This fish is an important top-level, resident predator in coral reef environments; removal can cause corresponding changes in reef fish community structure (Carr and Hixon 1995). Indications of overfishing include: declines in abundance and size, decreases in number and weight of catch, declines in catch per unit, and loss of spawning aggregations. Catch throughout much of range often yields only immature (< 40 cm total length) individuals (Sadovy, in press). Considered overfished in the Florida Keys based upon spawning potential ratio below 30 percent, despite seven-year moratorium in Florida and federal waters (Ault et al. 1998). Overfishing for at least 20 years have raised concerns that the species could become locally or commercially extinct range-wide (Sadovy, in press).