20 species of grouper fish are endangered
March 21, 2007
20 of the world’s 162 known species of grouper are threatened with extinction according to a survey by conservation groups. Grouper are popular food fish throughout the world, but due to their slow reproductive rates they are particularly vulnerable to overharvesting.
“This shows that over-fishing could decimate another major food and economic resource for humans, similar to the loss of the cod stocks off New England and Canada that has put thousands of people out of work,” said Roger McManus, a senior director of Conservation International’s Marine Program.
Groupers are often captured for the live fish trade in Hong Kong where a fish may go for more than $50 per kilogram. A study published earlier this year found that the trade is significantly depleting reef fish populations off northern coast of Borneo.
Live fish catch, including a species of grouper. Photo by Helen Scales, a biologist who led the live reef fish trade study in Borneo
The latest research is the first comprehensive assessment of groupers worldwide. Previously eight species were listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened.
“The results are worrying and highlight the urgent need for fishery management, more effective marine protected areas (MPAs), and more sustainable eating habits for consumers of these fishes,” said Dr. Yvonne Sadovy, Chair of the IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group and Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong.