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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

This long-lived fish has a fascinating and complex life-history. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that individuals first function sexually as females and then later, at least some of the mature females change to males. It is thought that this sex change can occur at a wide range of sizes and ages, although not all individuals change sex. A brown-marbled grouper can live for over 40 years, an incredibly long time for a fish, and can reproduce for over 30 of those years, during which time they form large aggregations to spawn (2). The brown-marbled grouper is one of the largest fish predators on coral reefs (5), and is mainly active at dusk, when it feeds on fishes, crabs and cephalopods (3) (6). This secretive and wary fish may be ciguatoxic (5); that is, the flesh may be contaminated with a toxin that can make humans very sick if consumed.
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Description

The brown-marbled grouper is a robust marine fish, with a pale yellowish-brown, scaled body, covered with large, irregular, dark brown blotches. The head, back and sides are also covered with close-set tiny brown spots. The head profile is slightly indented at the eye, and then curves out towards the start of the dorsal fin. The tail, or caudal, fin is rounded (3).
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in lagoon pinnacles, channels, and outer reef slopes, in coral-rich (Ref. 1937) areas and with clear waters. Juveniles in seagrass beds (Ref. 30573, 41878). Feeds on fishes, crabs, and cephalopods. May be ciguatoxic in some areas (Ref. 1602). Mainly active at dusk (Ref. 48635). Palau fishers increase their drop-line and spear-gun catches through knowledge of reproductive cycle of remochel, one of most important species in the area (Ref. 2928). Cultured under experimental conditions in the Philippines; a candidate for aquaculture in Singapore. In Hong Kong live fish markets (Ref. 27253).
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=5222&speccode=12 External link.
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Distribution

Range Description

Epinephelus fuscoguttatus is an Indo-Pacific species, ocurring in the Red Sea, along the east coast of Africa to Mozambique, east to Samoa and the Phoenix Islands, north to Japan, and south to Australia. It is unknown from the Persian Gulf, Hawaii, and French Polynesia. It is also recorded from Hibernia Reef, Timor Sea, south of Timor-Leste (B. Russell, pers. comm).

(See modelled map for Australian distribution).

Spawning aggregations are known from Palau, Pohnpei (Micronesia), outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Australia), Komodo National Park (Indonesia), Dumbea (New Caledonia), and Fiji.
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Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Samoa and the Phoenix Islands, north to Japan, south to Australia. Unknown from the Persian Gulf, Hawaii, and French Polynesia. Often confused with Epinephelus polyphekadion (=Epinephelus microdon of recent authors).
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=5222&speccode=12 External link.
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Red Sea, Indo-West Pacific: East Africa, Madagascar and Mascarenes east to Samoa, north to Ryukyu Islands, south to Western Australia, New South Wales (Australia), New Caledonia and Tonga.
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Range

The brown-marbled grouper occurs throughout the Indo-Pacific region; from the Red Sea to the Samoan Islands, north to the Ryuku Islands and south to the Great Barrier Reef (3) (4).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 14 - 15; 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=5222&speccode=12 External link.
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Size

Maximum size: 1200 mm TL
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Max. size

120 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 2114)); max. published weight: 11.0 kg (Ref. 5222); max. reported age: 40 years (Ref. 74383)
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Diagnostic Description

Description

Occurs in lagoon pinnacles, channels, and outer reef slopes, in coral-rich areas and with clear waters. Feeds on fishes, crabs, and cephalopods. May be ciguatoxic in some areas (Ref. 1602). Palau fishers increase their dropline and speargun catches through knowledge of reproductive cycle of remochel, one of most important species in the area (Ref. 2928). Cultured under experimental conditions in the Philippines; a candidate for aquaculture in Singapore.
  • Anon. (1996). FishBase 96 [CD-ROM]. ICLARM: Los Baños, Philippines. 1 cd-rom pp.
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Small juveniles (
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=5222&speccode=12 External link.
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Type Information

Neotype for Epinephelus fuscoguttatus
Catalog Number: USNM 147594
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): D. Erdman
Year Collected: 1948
Locality: Saudi Arabia: Red Sea, pier 2 miles north of Jidda [sic], on north side of pier near end of pier. SAMS (Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate) pier., Saudi Arabia, Red Sea, Indian
Depth (m): 1
  • Neotype: Randall, J. E. 1964. Pacific Science. 18 (3): 291.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Occurs in lagoon pinnacles, channels, and outer reef slopes, in coral-rich areas and with clear waters. Juveniles occur in seagrass beds. Forms spawning aggregations.

Males are easily available for natural spawning in Singapore (Chao et al. 1993). In Palau, sampled mature males ranged in size from 698–870 mm total length, mature females from 420 to 850 mm (Johannes et al. 1999).

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

reef-associated; marine; depth range 1 - 60 m (Ref. 9710)
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Depth range based on 38 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 31 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0.15 - 345
  Temperature range (°C): 26.358 - 29.336
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.000 - 1.251
  Salinity (PPS): 30.220 - 37.566
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.314 - 4.700
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.100 - 0.301
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.567 - 8.403

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0.15 - 345

Temperature range (°C): 26.358 - 29.336

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.000 - 1.251

Salinity (PPS): 30.220 - 37.566

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.314 - 4.700

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.100 - 0.301

Silicate (umol/l): 0.567 - 8.403
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth: 1 - 60m.
From 1 to 60 meters.

Habitat: reef-associated. Blotchy rockcod.  (Forsskal, 1775)  Attains at least 90 cm. Red Sea, western Indian Ocean south to Mozambique and east to the western Pacific (Japan to Australia ).
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The brown-marbled grouper inhabits shallow water over coral reefs and rocky bottoms, in areas of rich coral growth and clear water, down to depths of 60 meters. Juveniles are found in areas of seagrass (3) (4).
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Trophic Strategy

Found inshore (Ref. 75154).
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Diseases and Parasites

Vibriosis Disease (general). Bacterial diseases
  • Koesharyani, I., D. Roza, K. Mahardika, F. Johnny, [N.] Zafran and K. Yuasa 2001 Manual for fish disease diagnosis: Marine fish and crustacean diseases in Indonesia. Gondol Research Station for Coastal Fisheries, Central Research Institute for Fisheries, Agency for Agricultural Research and Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency, Indonesia. 57 p. (Ref. 48690)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=48690&speccode=80 External link.
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Gas-bubble Disease (e.). Others
  • Koesharyani, I., D. Roza, K. Mahardika, F. Johnny, [N.] Zafran and K. Yuasa 2001 Manual for fish disease diagnosis: Marine fish and crustacean diseases in Indonesia. Gondol Research Station for Coastal Fisheries, Central Research Institute for Fisheries, Agency for Agricultural Research and Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency, Indonesia. 57 p. (Ref. 48690)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=48690&speccode=80 External link.
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Fish Leech Infestation (Hirudinea sp.). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Koesharyani, I., D. Roza, K. Mahardika, F. Johnny, [N.] Zafran and K. Yuasa 2001 Manual for fish disease diagnosis: Marine fish and crustacean diseases in Indonesia. Gondol Research Station for Coastal Fisheries, Central Research Institute for Fisheries, Agency for Agricultural Research and Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency, Indonesia. 57 p. (Ref. 48690)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=48690&speccode=80 External link.
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Cauliflower Disease. Viral diseases
  • Oseko, N., V. Palanisamy, B.C. Kua and C.T. Thye 2002 Occurrence of lymphocystis disease in cultured tiger grouper Epinephelus fuscoguttatus in Malaysia. p. 213-217. In C.R. Lavilla-Pitogo and E.R. Cruz-Lacierda (eds.) Diseases in Asian Aquaculture IV. Fish Health Section, Asian Fisheries Society, Manila Philippines. (Ref. 48827)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=48827&speccode=4460 External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Epinephelus fuscoguttatus

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


There are 2 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.

ATTGGCACCCTTTATCTTGTATTTGGTGCCTGAGCCGGTATGGTAGGAACAGCCCTC---AGCCTGCTAATTCGAGCTGAGCTTAGCCAACCAGGGGCTTTACTAGGTGAC---GACCAGATCTATAATGTAATTGTTACAGCACATGCTTTTGTAATAATCTTTTTTATAGTAATACCAATTATAATTGGTGGCTTTGGAAACTGACTTATTCCACTTATA---ATTGGCGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCTCGAATGAATAATATAAGCTTCTGACTTCTTCCTCCATCCTTCCTGCTCCTTCTCGCTTCTTCTGGAGTAGAAGCCGGTGCCGGTACTGGTTGAACGGTTTACCCACCCTTAGCTGGAAACTTAGCCCATGCAGGTGCATCCGTAGACTTA---ACCATCTTCTCACTACATCTAGCAGGTATTTCATCAATTCTAGGTGCAATTAACTTTATTACAACCATTATTAATATAAAACCCCCTGCTATCTCTCAATACCAAACACCTTTATTTGTATGAGCTGTATTAATTACAGCCGTGCTTCTACTCCTCTCTCTTCCCGTTCTTGCCGCT---GGCATTACAATGTTACTCACAGATCGTAACCTTAACACTACTTTCTTTGACCCAGCCGGAGGGGGAGACCCTATC
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Epinephelus fuscoguttatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 27
Specimens with Barcodes: 35
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2004

Assessor/s
Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group)

Reviewer/s
Sadovy, Y. & Cabanban, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
Epinephalus fuscoguttatus is inherently vulnerable to fishing and heavily sought for the live reef food fish trade. It can be cultured by hatcheries but is still extensively taken from the wild (and marketed as adults or large juveniles or removed from the wild as small juveniles and grown out to market size in captivity) including from spawning aggregations in many cases. It is ciguatoxic in some areas which probably means reduced pressure on this species although many toxic fish of this species are periodically brought in live to Hong Kong making people sick (South China Post newspaper articles). The NT designation is intended to be precautionary and to signal that this species is inherently vulnerable to fishing (it is a large species and aggregates to spawn) and is quite desirable but is little monitored or managed. We need to seek more information on this species to permit a full assessment. (Follow the link below to see a summary of known information on regional status and trade statistics).
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Status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).
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Population

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Fishing and habitat destruction of seagrass beds and coral reefs (Burke et al. 2002, Hodgson and Liebeler 2002).
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Near Threatened (NT) , IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group
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The brown-marbled grouper is an important component of regional fisheries, and several biological characteristics of this species result in it being particularly vulnerable to over-fishing. As it forms spawning aggregations it is an easy and attractive target for fishermen; the long lifespan means that the population can take many years to recover if numbers become depleted; and as a protogynous hermaphrodite, it is greatly threatened by the trend of fishermen to target larger fish. The large individuals of a population includes all the males that are vital to maintain the sex ratio, as well as important female breeders that are highly fertile and contribute a substantial proportion of young to the population for many years (2). Removing all the large individuals from the population can have devastating consequences. The destruction of seagrass beds and coral reefs due to human activities also poses a threat to the survival of this species (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
From the 1980s, the Pohnpei State Government began implementing measures to reduce fishing effort on groupers, including a partial sales ban during the spawning season (March to April), but subsistence fishing on aggregations continued during the closed season, with fish being frozen until the end of the ban. Also the ban may have little overall effect since aggregation sites in close proximity to population centers can be targeted outside the ban period. In 1995, the Kehpara Marine Sanctuary was established, but the northwest boundary fell short of covering Camouflage Grouper or Brown-marbled Grouper aggregations, so fishing continued. No foreign fishing vessels are allowed and entry restriction for divers at one site, but aggregations extend at least one month beyond protection (Reef fish spawning aggregations working group 2002). Also monitored in Pohnpei Conservation and Monitoring of Reef Fish Spawning Aggregation Site programme, a total of 1,085 individuals were recorded during monitoring in three days of March 2001 full moon (Pet et al., pers. comm. 2001).

In Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, the majority of individuals interviewed had a strong awareness of their ability to overfish fish stocks, with ensuring the future sustainability of resources being the predominant reasons for implementing management strategies. Dynamiting is prohibited under customary law and also at a national and provincial level, night time spearfishing at a known spawning aggregation site is prohibited under customary law. However, some young fishermen ignore the night time spearfishing ban. In Buka Island, the power of community leaders to enforce closures within their respective communities appears to have declined considerably in recent years (Hamilton 2003).

In Komodo Marine Park, Indonesia, spawning aggregation protected zones with seasonal closure recommended for traditional use zones (Reef fish spawning aggregations working group 2002).

In Australia, a size limit of a minimum 35 cm and a specific group combined bag limit on this species, applying across all sectors of the coral reef fin fish fishery including commercial and recreational fishers and charter boat operators have been proposed in the Draft Fisheries (Coral Reef Fin Fish) Management Plan in Queensland, minimum size limits are set at a point which allows at least half of the fish in a population to reach reproductive maturity and spawn before they are available for harvest.

In the Solomon Islands, a management plan for the live reef fish trade was drafted in Honiara, seeking to totally protect the spawning aggregations of E. fuscoguttatus by placing a ban on aggregation fishing for five days either side of the new moon during the three months of the year when aggregations are known to form (Donnelly 2001). The LRFFT interim licence conditions was revised in 2002 (Oreihaka, pers. comm., 2003), and a recent article in the SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin (Samoilys 2002) stated that the management plan drafted in 2001 was yet to be implemented.

In Palau, the Marine Protection Act of 1994 prohibits sale or purchase of E. fuscoguttatus from April 1 through July 31 each year, intended to protect spawning aggregation. In 1995 the Act was amended to prohibit any capture of these groupers even for subsistence purpose in the closed period (Johannes et al. 1999). A four-month ‘bul’ (taboo) was enforced in the state of Ngeremlengui, but was not completely effective in preventing fishing on the spawning aggregation, which was said by fishermen to be much smaller than they were ten years ago (Johannes 1999). Exports are monitored, no foreign fishing vessels allowed and entry restriction for divers at one site, species may probably still be in fair condition, but aggregations extend at least one month beyond protection (i.e., into August) (Reef fish spawning aggregations working group 2002).

In Malaysia, marine parks were established under the Fisheries Act of 1985 for the protection, preservation, and management of natural breeding grounds and habitat of aquatic life. Although this is a general clause, most of the marine parks are situated on coral reefs which are the habitats of this and other serranids.
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Conservation

In many parts of the brown-marbled grouper's range there are conservation measures in place. For example in Queensland, Australia, there are minimum and maximum size limits for catches; in Papua New Guinea, night time spear fishing at a known spawning aggregation site is prohibited; and in Palau, the Marie Protection Act of 1994 prohibits sale or purchase of this species from April 1 to July 31 each year (1). This species also occurs within a number of marine protected areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (5). However, these laws are not always adhered to (1), and it has been suggested that the current maximum size limit in Queensland is too high to protect a sufficient number of breeding individuals (2).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquaculture: commercial; aquarium: commercial; price category: very high; price reliability: questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this genus
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Wikipedia

Brown-marbled grouper

The brown-marbled grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus) is a benthic marine fish which belongs to the family Serranidae or also known as the groupers.

Description[edit]

Epinephelus fuscoguttatusis a medium sized fish which grows up to 120 cm, but the average size mostly observed is 50 cm.[1] Its body has a stocky and robust aspect, is compressed laterally and has a sharp profile for the head. The mouth is big and has a superior position with many small teeth and canine in front. The background coloration is pale yellowish-brown with many irregular in size and shape dark brown or Grey blotches.The body is also covered with many small dark brown spots All the fins are large and round.

The brown-marbled grouper can be easily confused with its close relative Epinephelus polyphekadion. The differences are more obvious on adults specimen. The distinctive characters of the brown-marbled grouper are: a small black saddle on the top of caudal peduncle, when observed on the side a notch above the eyes and the front head is clearly visible, its body is quite thick from the front of the dorsal fin to the bottom of the fish below the pectoral fins.[2]

Distribution & habitat[edit]

It is widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific,from eastern coasts of Africa to the oceanic islands of the centre of the pacific Ocean, Red Sea included. However, it's absent from the Persian Gulf, Hawaii and French Polynesia.[1]

Like many of the groupers, the brown-marbled grouper lives in rich clear waters close to coral or rocky reefs, lagoons and external slopes from the surface until 60 metres (200 ft) depth.[3]

Feeding[edit]

The brown-marbled grouper is carnivorous and its diet consists mainly in fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods, it's an ambush predator.[4]

Behavior[edit]

This grouper is solitary, sedentary, it defends a well defined territory, benthic and has an nocturnal which can be maximal at sunrise and/or at sunset.[5]

It has a quite long life span for a fish, it can expect to live until at least 40 years old.[6]

It is protogynous hermaphrodite, which means the female can evolved to male during its life.

Protection[edit]

The brown-marbled grouper is listed "near threatened" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2004. Because of its size and hardiness, this species has a hight commercial interest for the live food fish trade.

However,its biological characteristics make this species particularly vulnerable to over-fishing. Especially during mating periods at specific times and places, the brown-marbled grouper forms spawning aggregations which are easy and attractive targets for fishermen. The quite long life span of this grouper and its poor population density in reefs in the wild result in a weak and slow population regeneration capacity. Furthermore, brown-marbled groupers are greatly threatened by the trend of fishermen to target large fish. That concerns especially males so if the sex ratio between males and females is falling, it will have an impact on the fertilization capacity of the species. It will have the same result on over-fishing females breeders that are highly fertile and would not be able to actively contributing to maintain the proportion of young in the population.

Brown-marbled groupers can be cultured by hatcheries but these installations are still getting fishes straight from the wild. This method has also a negative effect on the global population because all the groupers catch in any size category are kept and grown until they reach market size.

One fact helps to preserve a bit the brown-marbled groupers in some geographic areas and it is the ciguatera which affects its flesh.

Over the last few years, some protective measures or/and sustainable fishing methods have been taken by many states where spawning aggregation are known like in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Malaysia, Salomon Islands and Palau.[7][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.fishbase.org/summary/4460
  2. ^ Introduction to Monitoring and Management of Spawning Aggregations and Aggregation Sites for Three Indo-Pacific Grouper Species (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus, Epinephelus polyphekadion, and Plectropomus areolatus), THE NATURE CONSERVANCY, Indo-Pacific Draft Field Manual, June 2003, http://www.reefresilience.org/pdf/manual_field_practitioners.pdf
  3. ^ Lieske, E. and R. Myers, 1994. Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers, 400 p.
  4. ^ Lieske & Myers,Coral reef fishes,Princeton University Press, 2009, ISBN 9780691089959
  5. ^ Brulé & Déniel, ‘’ Expose synoptique des données biologiques sur le mérou rouge Epinephelus morio (valenciennes, 1828) du Golfe du Mexique’’, F.A.O., 1994,ISBN 9252034633
  6. ^ Pears, R.J., J.H. Choat, B.D. Mapstone and G.A. Begg, 2006. Demography of a large grouper, Epinephelus fuscoguttatus, from Australia's Great barrier reef: implications for fishery management. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 307:259-272.
  7. ^ http://eol.org/pages/209732/details#conservation
  8. ^ Cornish, A. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group) 2004. Epinephelus fuscoguttatus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 June 2013.
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