US$10,000 Grouper Meal

Callum Roberts cr10 at
Fri Nov 29 06:46:48 EST 1996

Using Yvonne Sadovy's length fecundity relationship for groupers,  
taking the length of the beast as accurately measured at 3 metres,  
and assuming a 1kg fish is 38cm long, the 230kg grouper would have  
carried the same number of eggs as 523 1kg fishes. Of course, this  
old fish was probably a male and may have been getting too long in  
the tooth to chase those younger and smaller than itself...! 

It is a fair point though that the economics of the large, live food fish  
fishery are such that reefs will be strip mined of the biggest fish  
unless the trade is regulated against. Such values make it cost  
effective to fly or ship in live reef fish from even the remotest regions  
of the world and the appetite for them is growing. This was a key  
reason why fish like the Napoleon or humphead wrasse (Cheilinus  
undulatus), and Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum)  
were placed on the IUCN Red List early this year as being vulnerable  
throughout their (large) ranges. 

People like Jim Bohnsack have been talking for some time about  
implementing maximum size limits for take of some reef fishes.  
There may already be some examples. 

I would love to see the use of marine reserves, fully protected from  
fishing, become a commonplace feature of fisheries management  
globally. Such reserves provide critical refuges for large and  
long-lived species and may be one of the only effective ways of  
maintaining populations of them. Throughout large areas of the  
Caribbean the biggest groupers have either disappeared or become  
very rare due to overfishing (straightforward artisanal exploitation -  
no big bucks profits here). We also Red Listed a number of them as  
vulnerable. Increasingly I can see that the conservation lobby will  
become much more involved and vocal about fisheries management  
issues. If we don't act soon, global extinctions may follow the many  
local extinctions that have already occurred. 

Best wishes, 

Callum Roberts 

Ref: Sadovy, Y. (1996) Reproduction of reef fishery species. Chapter  
2 in N.V.C. Polunin and C.M. Roberts (eds), Reef Fisheries, Chapman  
and Hall, London. 

Dr Callum Roberts 
Dept of Environmental Economics and Environmental Management 
University of York 
York, YO1 5DD 
Tel: +44 (0)1904 434066; Fax: +44 (0)1904 432998; email  
cr10 at 

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