Valuable but vulnerable: over-fishing and under-management continue to threaten groupers so what now?

Mitcheson, Y.J.S., Linardich, C., Barreiros, J.P. et al. (2020) Valuable but vulnerable: Over-fishing and under-management continue to threaten groupers so what now?

Marine Policy, 116, 103909. DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2020.103909 (IF2020 4,173; Q1 Environmental Studies)
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  • Apr, 2020


Among threats to marine species, overfishing has often been highlighted as a major contributor to population declines and yet fishing effort has increased globally over the past decade. This paper discusses the decadal reassessment of groupers (family Epinephelidae), an important and valuable group of marine fishes subjected to high market demand and intense fishing effort, based on IUCN criteria. Allowing for uncertainty in the status of species listed as Data Deficient, 19 species (11.4%) are currently assigned to a “threatened” category. This first reassessment for a large marine fish taxon permits an evaluation of changes following the original assessments, provides a profile of the current conservation condition of species, identifies the challenges of assessing conservation status, and highlights current and emerging threats. Measures needed to reduce threats and lessons learned from conservation efforts are highlighted. Present threats include intensifying fishing effort in the face of absent or insufficient fishery management or monitoring, growing pressures from international trade, and an inadequate coverage in effectively managed, sized, or located protected areas. Emerging threats involve expansion of fishing effort into deeper waters and more remote locations, shifts to previously non-targeted species, increases in the capture, marketing and use of juveniles, growing demands for domestic and international trade, and, potentially, climate change. Those species most threatened are larger-bodied, longer-lived groupers, most of which reproduce in spawning aggregations.