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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Summary

"Epinephelus areolatus, part of a genus of groupers, is a sea fish that inhabits coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. Whitish to gray in colour with rounded brownish spots, this fish grows to an average length of 47cm and a weight of 1.4 kg, and is particularly identifiable by a narrow white straight margin on its truncate tail. This species consistently demands a high market price. Thus fish are obtained through both capture from natural populations and raised populations in aquaculture. Popular as food, intensive fishing and especially trawling is probably the only known threat to this species."
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Biology

Usually found in seagrass beds or on fine sediment bottoms near rocky reefs, dead coral, or alcyonarians (Ref. 5222), in shallow continental shelf waters (Ref. 27353). Juveniles are common at water depths to 80 m (Ref. 6390). Probably spawn during restricted periods and form aggregations when doing so (Ref. 27352). Eggs and early larvae are probably pelagic (Ref. 6390). Feed on fish and benthic invertebrates, primarily prawns and crabs (Ref. 4787, 27354).
  • Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall 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. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)
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Distribution

Range Description

General
Epinephelus areolatus is a very widespread Indo-Pacific species that ranges from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Natal (South Africa), east to Fiji, north to Japan, and south to the Arafura Sea (Russell and Houston 1989) and northern Australia. Recently it has been recorded from Tonga (Randall et al. 2003). Areolate grouper appears to be absent from Micronesia, Polynesia, and most islands of the western Indian Ocean (Randall and Heemstra 1991). It is often confused with Epinephelus chlorostigma.

Specific
Australia (Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia), Bahrain, Cambodia, China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangdong–Hainan, Guangxi, Shanghai, Zhejiang), Cook Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Hong Kong, India (Andaman Island, Nicobar Island, Goa, Karaikal, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Mahé, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Tripura), Indonesia (Bali, Java, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Islands, Moluccas, Papua, Sulawesi, Sumatra), Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan (Kyushu, Ogasawara-shoto, Ryukyu Islands, Shikoku), Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak), Maldives, Mozambique, New Caledonia, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea (Bismarck Archipelago North Solomons), Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, and Yemen.
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"E. areolatus occurs in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and western Indian Ocean south to Natal, South Africa, its range extends eastward to India, Sri Lanka, Andaman Islands, Thailand,  Malaysia, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, northern Australia (and nearby islands), Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, and Fiji."
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Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Natal, South Africa and east to Fiji, north to Japan, south to the Arafura Sea (Ref. 9819) and northern Australia. Recently recorded from Tonga (Ref. 53797). Appears to be absent from Micronesia, Polynesia, and most islands of the western Indian Ocean. Often confused with Epinephelus chlorostigma.
  • Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall 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. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)
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Red Sea, Indo-West Pacific: East Africa east to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, north to southern Japan, south to Western Australia and Queensland (Australia) and New Caledonia.
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Physical Description

Morphology

"Dorsal fin with 11 spines and 15 or 16 soft rays. Anal fin with 3 spines and 8 soft rays. Pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19, pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins, pectoral-fin length contained 1.5 to 1.8 times in head length, pelvic-fin length contained 1.7 to 2.1 times in head length, reaching to or nearly to anus. Cauda lfin truncate or emarginate. Color of head, body an fins is pale brown with numerous dark green-brown spots. Spots on the fins are darker. Caudal fin edge dusky black with distinctive white outer margin."
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Dorsal spines (total): 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15 - 17; Analspines: 3; Analsoft rays: 8
  • Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall 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. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)
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Size

Max reported length is 47 cm with the common size being 35 cm. Average weight reported is 1.4 kg.
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Maximum size: 470 mm TL
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Max. size

47.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 27266)); max. published weight: 1,400 g (Ref. 27266); max. reported age: 15 years (Ref. 27352)
  • Moran, M., J. Jenke, C. Burton and D. Clarke 1988 The Western Australian trap and line fishery on the Northwest Shelf. Western Australian Marine Research Laboratories. FIRTA Project 86/28, Final Report. 79 p. (Ref. 27266)
  • Shapiro, D.Y. 1987 Reproduction in groupers. p. 295-327. In J.J. Polovina and S. Ralston (eds.) Tropical snappers and groupers. Biology and fisheries management. Westview Press, Boulder. (Ref. 27352)
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Diagnostic Description

Characterized by grey to whitish color with numerous close-set orange to brown spots, becoming smaller and increase in number as growth increases; narrow white margin on tail; body scales ctenoid, cycloid scales on thorax and ventrally on abdomen; body with auxiliary scales; moderately elongate body, greatest depth 2.7-3.3 in SL; truncate or slightly emarginate caudal fin; pelvic fins 1.6-2.1 in head length (Ref. 90102).
  • Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall 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. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)
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Description

Usually found in seagrass beds or on fine sediment bottoms near rocky reefs, dead coral, or alcyonarians. At New Caledonia, the species was reported to feed on penaeid prawns.
  • Anon. (1996). FishBase 96 [CD-ROM]. ICLARM: Los Baños, Philippines. 1 cd-rom pp.
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Diagnostic

"From Talwar & Kacker (1984) and Heemstra & Randall (1993): A small serranid fish with slender and laterally compressed body. Body depth less than head length, depth contained 2.8 to 3.3 times in standard length (for fish 14 to 31 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.4 to 2.8 times in standard length, interorbital area convex. Preoperculem with a convex and finely serrated upper edge witt 2 to 4-7 strong serrae at angle. Operculum witt convex upper border and 3 flat spines, the middle spine equidistant from upper and lower. Maxilla extending to verticle through posterior edge of eye. Maxilla, lower jaw and gular area scaly. Pair of canines on each side of symphysis in both jaws, teeth in narroe bands in 2 rows on side of jaws. teeth in inner row longer and depressible.Total gill rakers were 23 to 25, gill rakers 8 to 10 on upper limb and 14 to 16 on lower limb. Lateral-body scales are ctenoid, adults with auxiliary scales, lateral-line scales were 49 to 53, lateral-scale series 97 to 116. Pyloric caeca 11 to 17."
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Diagnostic

"Caudal fin subtruncate, truncate or emarginate. Depth of body 2.8 to 3.4 times in standard length. Dorsal fin with 14 to 17 soft rays. Anal fin with 8 soft rays. Middle opercular spine about equidistant from lower and upper spines. Dorsal fin with 15 to 17 soft rays, body with small or large spots or network of light lines. Preopercular angle with 2 to 4 strong serrae, dark spots on body rather large, caudal fin edged dusky black with a distinct fine white outer margin. - (From Talwar and Kacker, 1984)."
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Look Alikes

E. areolatus looks similar to E. chlorostigma as both species have brown spots on body and truncate or emarginate caudal fin with white margin. This species is also sometimes confused with E. bleekeri.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
General
Epinephelus areolatus is found usually in turbid water in seagrass beds or silty sand bottoms around isolated small rock outcrops, dead coral or soft coral (Randall and Heemstra 1991) in shallow continental shelf waters (Leis 1987) in depths from 2 to 200 m (Randall and Ben-Tuvia 1983, IRD database). Juveniles are common at water depths to 80 m (Kailola et al. 1993).

Feeding
Feed on fish and benthic invertebrates, primarily prawns and crabs (Kulbicki et al. 2005, Randall and Heemstra 1991, Parrish 1987, Salini et al. 1994).

Size and age
Maximum size is reported to be 47.0 cm TL, with a maximum weight of 1.4 kg (Moran et al. 1988). The maximum reported age for areolate grouper is 15 years (Shapiro 1987).

Reproduction
Areolate grouper probably spawns during restricted periods and forms aggregations when doing so (Shapiro 1987).
In New Caledonia, the sex ratio is reported as 1:6 males to females, with a size at maturity of females at 19.5 cm TL and 29 cm TL for males (IRD database).

Systems
  • Marine
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General Habitat

"Usually found in seagrass beds or on fine sediment bottoms near rocky reefs, dead coral, or alcyonarians, in shallow continental shelf waters. This fish occurs at a depth of about 6 to 200 meters in water. Juveniles are more common at depths of 80 meters."
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Environment

reef-associated; marine; depth range 6 - 200 m (Ref. 2334)
  • Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen and R.C. Steene 1990 Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 506 p. (Ref. 2334)
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Depth range based on 637 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 428 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0.25 - 141
  Temperature range (°C): 18.528 - 28.617
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.164 - 16.678
  Salinity (PPS): 32.902 - 38.549
  Oxygen (ml/l): 1.775 - 4.701
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.120 - 1.170
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.498 - 19.573

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0.25 - 141

Temperature range (°C): 18.528 - 28.617

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.164 - 16.678

Salinity (PPS): 32.902 - 38.549

Oxygen (ml/l): 1.775 - 4.701

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.120 - 1.170

Silicate (umol/l): 0.498 - 19.573
 
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Depth: 6 - 200m.
From 6 to 200 meters.

Habitat: reef-associated. Squaretail rockcod.  (Forsskal, 1775)   Attains 50 cm. 'truncatus' in Red Sea. Found Red Sea south to Natal and to western Pacific. Depth 6-200 metres.
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Trophic Strategy

Usually found in seagrass beds or on fine sediment bottoms near rocky reefs, dead coral, or alcyonarians (Ref. 5222), in shallow continental shelf waters (Ref. 27353). Juveniles are common at water depths to 80 m (Ref. 6390). Probably spawn during restricted periods and form aggregations when doing so (Ref. 27352). Eggs and early larvae are probably pelagic (Ref. 6390). Feed on fish and benthic invertebrates, primarily prawns and crabs (Ref. 4787, 27354). Feed in water to more than 100 m depth (Ref. 27354). Probably make frequent use of shelters, suggesting an 'ambush' method of feeding (Ref. 6390).
  • Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve 1993 Australian fisheries resources. Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra, Australia. 422 p. (Ref. 6390)
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"Secondary consumer. Trophic level estimated as 4. Feeding: This species feeds on fish and benthic invertebrates, primarily shrimps, prawns and crabs, crab juveniles and small fish."
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Diseases and Parasites

Diseases

"Parasites were reported from E. areolatus at different locations: 1.Purivirojkul and Areechon (2008) reported Ergasilus sp from the parasite group Copepoda in Thailand. 2. Saoud et al. (1986) reported Cainocreadium epinepheli (Yamaguti,1934) from the parasite group Digenea in Arabian Gulf. 3. Parukhin (1976) reported Hirudinella ventricosa (Pallas, 1774) Baird, 1853; Lepidapedoides levenseni (Linton,1907); Monascus filiformis (Rudolphi, 1819); Prosogonotrema bilabiatum Perez Vigueras, 1940; and, Prosorhynchus chorinemi Yamaguti, 1952; from the parasite group Digenea in Southern Seas. 4. Hafeezullah and Siddiqi (1970) reported Prosorhynchus epinepheli Yamaguti, 1939 from the parasite group Digenea in India. 5.Parukhin (1970) reported Prosorhynchus ozakii Manter 1934 from the parasite group Digenea in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 6. Parukhin (1976) reported Stephanostomum dentalum (Linton, 1901) from the parasite group Digenea in Southern Seas."
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Population Biology

"Details of the current population status of Epinephelus areolatus are unknown. Though this species of fish is widespread and reasonably common in some areas, intensive fishing and trawling may have reduced abundance of this species throughout much of its range."
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Max reported 15 years.
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Reproduction

"Like other groupers, the areolate grouper is a sex-changing species - some young females change to males with maturity. Mature fish are about 22cm in fork length. Spawning usually occurs during the months of May, June, October and December. Fish usually spawn in aggregations. Eggs and spawn are probably pelagic. Fertilistaion occurs externally. Juveniles are common at water depths to 80m. After hatching, wild grouper larvae eat copepods and other small zooplankton."
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Epinephelus areolatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 17 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CTTTATCTTGTATTTGGTGCCTGAGCCGGTATAGTGGGAACCGCCCTC---AGCCTGCTTATTCGAGCTGAGCTGAGCCAACCAGGAGCCCTACTTGGGGAC---GATCAGATCTATAACGTAATTGTTACAGCACACGCTTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATTATGATTGGTGGCTTCGGAAACTGACTTGTGCCTCTCATA---GTCGGCGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCTCGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTTCTCCCACCATCCTTCCTGCTCCTTCTAGCCTCCTCTGGAGTAGAAGCTGGTGCTGGGACTGGCTGAACAGTATACCCCCCTCTAGCCGGTAACCTAGCCCATGCAGGAGCATCTGTAGACTTA---ACCATCTTCTCACTTCACTTAGCGGGAGTTTCATCTATTCTAGGGGCAATTAACTTCATCACAACTATTATCAATATAAAACCCCCAGCCATTTCTCAGTATCAAACGCCTTTGTTCGTTTGAGCTGTATTAATTACAGCAGTTCTACTGCTCCTGCCCCTACCCGTGCTCGCCGCC---GGTATTACAATAGTTCTAACAAATCGAAACCTCAACACCACTTTTTTTGACCCCGATGGAGGAGGAGACCCCATTCTCTACCAACACCTC
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Epinephelus areolatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 20
Specimens with Barcodes: 74
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Russell, B., Pollard, D., Cornish, A., Kulbicki, M., Yeeting, B. & Fennessy, S.

Reviewer/s
Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Epinephelus areolatus is a widespread species that is relatively common. However, in some areas (e.g., Hong Kong, mainland China) the species has shown notable declines directly related to fishing pressure, primarily trawling. Because this is not one of the major target species, in addition to the restrictions on trawling within many areas of its range, it is currently considered a Least Concern species.
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"Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1 Year Published: 2008 Assessor/s: Russell, B., Pollard, D., Cornish, A., Kulbicki, M., Yeeting, B. & Fennessy, S. Reviewer/s: Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority) Conservation Action: Marine Protected Areas, Marine sancturies, Biosphere Reserves (Gulf of MannarBiosphere Reserve in East coast of India)"
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Population

Population
General
Epinephelus areolatus is widespread and reasonably common, relatively common in some areas, but details of its current population abundance are unknown. However, it is likely declining due to intensive fishing efforts over soft bottoms (i.e. trawling) throughout much of its range.

Fisheries-dependent data
Areolate grouper are reported catch from Saudi Arabia, but statistics do not indicate a decline (2000 to 2004) (http://www.fao.org).

Epinephelus areolatus is one of the most common grouper species on soft bottoms in New Caledonia (8.0% of grouper catch). Experimental fishing within a 10 year interval resulted in a 50% decline in catch (IRD database). Reported mean size 30 to 35 cm TL, with a density of 0.013/100 m sq. in New Caledonia (SPC PROCFISH data 2005).

A once common species in Hong Kong, but now rare, as a result of intensive trawling (Sadovy and Cornish 2000).

Small-scale industrial and commercial line and trap catch (Mozambique) represents 0.5 to 1% of the total catch (unpub. Data: FRI-Maputo). Second-most commonly caught serranid captured in Djibouti commercial fisheries (Darar 1984).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
General
Epinephelus areolatus is subject to commercial and recreational fishing activities, including the live reef fish trade (Philippines) (Pratt et al. 2000, Padilla et al. 2003) and the marine aquarium fish trade, have the potential to adversely affect populations of this species.

A trawl species in N. Australia (Errity 2003) and forms part of by-catch of the Northern Prawn Fishery in Australia (Stobutzki et al. (2001). Reported catch (tonnes) for Saudi Arabia (FAO unpublished) for 2000 (306), 2001 (245), 2002 (289), 2003 (309), 2004 (349) does not indicate any decline in this fishery. Not significantly caught by handline but major component of serranid long-line catch in New Caledonia (Kulbicki et al. 2000). A 50% decline of catch in the experimental longline fishing in southern New Caledonia (IRD database).

One of the most common mariculture species in southern China SE Asia and the Middle East (Leung et al. 1999). Live reef fish import data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (HK CSD) record the largest quantities of "other groupers" and "other marine fishes" as being imported from Thailand. Thailand and Malaysia are important sources for so-called "cultured" species including brown-spotted groupers Epinephelus areolatus / E. bleekeri, which are amongst 12 most commonly available species imported to Hong Kong (http://www.traffic.org/reef-fish/executivesummary.html). Fingerlings are wild-caught in Vietnam and Thailand (Sadovy 2000) and no hatcheries are known for this species (Sadovy pers. comm.).
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"1. Sannadurgappa (2010) observed that E. areolatus has disappeared due to overgrowing populations and human activities on Aghanashini estuary ecosystem, South India. 2. Live fish trade in Hongkong, harvesting of juveniles for mariculture in South East Asian countries and intensive trawling at many habitats of the fish can also reduce its numbers."
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Least Concern (LC)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
General
Areolate grouper occurs in marine protected areas within its range.

Country-specific
Epinephelus areolatus is listed as ‘Least Concern’ in NT Australia. There is a 35 cm minimum size limit and bag limit five fish (mixed species) in Queensland Australia (Department of Primary Industries 2003).
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"This is one of sixteen grouper species commonly raised through aquaculture. However, full-cycle culture of this species is not yet possible. Two-thirds of the culture of Epinephelus areolatus involves the capture of wild grouper eggs which are then grown out in aquaculture. The main disadvanatge of this capture based aquaculture (CBA) is that the wild eggs are gathered by a variety of artisianal methods. The success rates of these methods are variable - thus production amounts also vary. The primary culture method involves use of floating net cages. In this method, net cages are supported by a floating frame of plastic pipes, wood or other material and usually anchored to the sea floor. The advantages of this method are that it is simple, low on capital investment, and uses existing bodies of water. This allows production amounts to be manipulated easily according to market needs. Disadvantages compared to pond culture include vulnerability to external water quality problems and predators. Control over water temperature, which is known to strongly affect growth rates, is also more difficult in this method of culture."
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

"Used in commercial fisheries and aquaculture. This small size serranid forms an important component of the grouper fishery off Kerala coast (South India) in depths of 63 to 100 m. Caught with hook and lines, hand lines, trawl, bottom set gill nets, traps. Marketed fresh. Common fish in markets including live fish markets in Hongkong and Singapore. Used as marine aquarium fish. Small juveniles used as stock in aquaculture practices like floating net cages and pens in Southeast Asia."
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Importance

fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial
  • Garibaldi, L. 1996 List of animal species used in aquaculture. FAO Fish. Circ. 914. 38 p. (Ref. 12108)
  • FAO 1992 FAO Yearbook. Fishery statistics: catches and landings, volume 74. FAO Fish. Series 43. 677 p. (Ref. 8984)
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Risks

Risk Statement

Harmless to humans.
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Wikipedia

Areolate grouper

The areolate grouper (Epinephelus areolatus) is a fish of a genus of groupers. It is a marine fish that inhabits coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. They are produced through aquaculture and commercially fished. They currently face no threats to their survival.[1]

Description[edit]

The areolate grouper is a large fish (up to 47 cm long, 1.4 kg[2]) that lives near coral reefs. Its coloration is whitish to gray with rounded brownish spots; it is particularly identifiable by a narrow, white, straight margin on its truncate tail.[3] It has 11 dorsal spines, 15-17 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 8 anal soft rays.

According to FishBase, the areolate grouper is known by several other common names in English, including the areolate rock cod, squaretail rock cod, yellow-spotted rock cod, green-spotted rock cod, and flat-tailed cod. Several Middle Eastern and Asian languages have common names for this fish, as well. It is often confused with the brownspotted grouper (Epinephelus chlorostigma) found in the Persian Gulf[4] and several other many-spotted species.[3]

Distribution[edit]

YearFarmed productionCapture production
Metric tons(Saudi Arabia
1993512in the Indian Ocean)
1994508
1995502
1996750
1997474
1998180
1999110
2000104306
2001239245
2002157289
2003155309
2004155349

The areolate grouper is found in the tropical region ranging from 35°N - 33°S, 29°E - 180°E.[5] They are found in the Indo-Pacific region from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Natal, South Africa and east to Fiji, north to Japan, south to the Arafura Sea and northern Australia. It was recently recorded to have been observed in Tonga, but appears to be absent from areas in the western Indian Ocean.[4]

This grouper is usually found in seagrass beds or on fine sediment bottoms near rocky reefs, dead coral, or alcyonarian corals.[6] in shallow continental shelf waters. Juveniles are common at water depths to 80 m; eggs and early larvae are probably pelagic.

Reproduction and feeding[edit]

Like other groupers, the areolate grouper is a sex-changing species; young are female, and some change to male with maturity. Maturity is reached at a fork length of 22 cm, and spawning usually occurs during the months of May, June, October and December.[7]

After hatching, wild grouper larvae eat copepods and other small zooplankton.[8] Areolate grouper feed on fish and benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates, primarily prawns and crabs.[4]

Commercial production[edit]

The areolate grouper is one of about 16 species of groupers commonly raised using aquaculture.[8] Floating net cages, the primary culture method, are supported by a floating frame of plastic pipe, wood, or other material, and usually are anchored to the sea floor. This method is simple, has low capital investment, and uses existing bodies of water, so production can be easily increased or decreased. Disadvantages compared to pond culture include vulnerability to external water quality problems and predators. Also, no control over water temperature, which is known to strongly affect growth rates, is possible.[9]

Grouper consistently demands a high market price, so fishing pressure is intense. To alleviate the pressure on wild grouper stocks, many nations have promoted aquaculture in the hopes of producing a more sustainable grouper yield. Hong Kong is the primary producer of areolate grouper raised by aquaculture, and about 155 metric tons were produced in 2004.[10] Full-cycle culture of most grouper species, including the areolate grouper, is not yet possible, although several important advances have been made in recent years. For this reason, about two-thirds of all grouper culture, including culture of E. areolatus , involves the capture of wild grouper eggs which are then grown out in aquaculture. This is called capture-based aquaculture (CBA). The wild eggs are gathered by a variety of artisianal methods, and because success is not predictable, the production varies as well.[8]

Commercial fishing for areolate grouper done with long lines and hand lines. While its popularity for food has led to some species being threatened, currently no threat to the survival of E. areolatus exists.[11] The table at right shows the amount of areolate grouper produced by farming between 1992 and 2004 and the amount produced by capture in Saudi Arabia (Indian Ocean) between 1996 and 2004, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Epinephelus areolatus page on IUCN List of Threatened Species
  2. ^ Moran, M, Jenke J, Burton C, and Clarke D. 1988 The Western Australian trap and line fishery on the Northwest Shelf. Western Australian Marine Research Laboratories. FIRTA Project 86/28, Final Report. 79 p.
  3. ^ a b Ferrari A and Ferrari A. Diver’s Guide to Reef Life. Nautilus Publishing Sdn. Bhd, Maylasia, 2007. ISBN 983-2731-01-1, p. 149
  4. ^ a b c FishBase page on areolate grouper
  5. ^ Heemstra PC, Randall JE. 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 Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p.
  6. ^ Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall 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 Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p.
  7. ^ Pakoa, K. Vital statistics of marine fishes of Vanuatu. FishByte July–September, 1998 read online
  8. ^ a b c Tupper, M.; Sheriff, N. 2008. Capture-based aquaculture of groupers. In A. Lovatelli and P.F. Holthus (eds). Capture-based aquaculture. Global overview. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 508. Rome, FAO. pp. 217–253.
  9. ^ Australia Department of Primary Industries page on cage aquaculture
  10. ^ Pillay, TVR, Kutty MN. Aquaculture: principles and practices. Wiley-Blackwell 2005, ISBN 1-4051-0532-1 p. 50
  11. ^ Epinephelus areolatus page on IUCN List of Threatened Species
  12. ^ Halwart M, Soto D, Arthur JR. Cage Aquaculture: regional reviews and global overview. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2007. ISBN 92-5-105801-6 p. 31; FAO Yearbook 2004: fishery statistics: capture production, Volume 98. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006. ISBN 92-5-005515-3 pp. 155,459
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