[Coral-List] Endangered Status RE: Bumphead parrotfish Endangered Species protection petition

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 8 11:24:28 EST 2010

For the general interest of Coral-Listers, and any NOAA-NMFS folks reading this post, some additional facts about bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) not detailed (or at least not clearly) in the petition.
1) IUCN StatusThe International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species classifies bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) as VULNERABLE, meaning, at high risk of extinction in the wild.. This classification is based on actual levels of exploitation.See here: http://www.iucnredlist.org/
2) Spawning aggregationsThe Society for the Conservation or Reef Fish Aggregations (SCRFA) database has some information regarding aggregations of this species. It confirms lack of protection.See here: http://www.scrfa.org/database/SearchDatabase.php
3) Live reef fish tradeIn addition to the information provided at the petition, a major threat for the survival of bumphead parrotfish is the live reef fish trade. Here, juveniles and young adults of large reef fishes are targeted, caught alive and sold (alive) in Asian markets for high-end restaurants. Entire reefs in the Indo-Pacific are being depleted of large groupers, wrasses and parrotfishes for this purpose.I strongly suggest to read in detail:Sadovy YJ, Vincent ACJ.  2002. Ecological issues and the trades in live reef fishes. Pp. 391-420. In: Peter F. Sale, Coral Reef Fishes: Dynamics and Diversity in a Complex Ecosystem. Academic Press, San Diego

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. http://independent.academia.edu/SarahFriasTorres

> From: dfenner at blueskynet.as
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 13:07:04 -1100
> Subject: [Coral-List] Bumphead parrotfish Endangered Species protection	petition
> I just found out that an NGO (Wildearth Guardians) in the U.S. has 
> petitioned for the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) to receive 
> protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  The petition makes 
> interesting reading, and can be found at:
> http://www.wildearthguardians.org/Wildlife/ProtectingEndangeredSpecies/TheWesternArk/tabid/124/Default.asp
> As I understand it, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a part of 
> NOAA, has 90 days to review the petition, and decide whether it as worthy of 
> investigating.  They may only use information contained in the petition 
> during this phase.  If they decide it is worth investigating, then they have 
> a year to make a final decision, and can gather information from any and all 
> sources.
>     I would point out one small correction to the petition, and that is it 
> states that American Samoa has protected bumphead parrotfish.  That is not 
> true, the promise was made to protect them about 2 years ago, but it has not 
> happened yet.  It is said to be close to happening.
> Bumphead Parrotfish along with other large reef fish such as Humphead Wrasse 
> and several shark species are particularly vulnerable to fishing, and 
> fishing has reduced populations greatly in many locations, particularly near 
> people.  On most near-pristine reefs, large fish often referred to as apex 
> predators can represent around 50% of all the reef fish biomass, while near 
> people they often represent a negligable portion of the biomass, and are the 
> primary reason why reefs near people often have half or less of the fish 
> biomass of near-pristine reefs.  Removing such a huge portion of the natural 
> ecosystem carries with it the risk of unknown future consequences, much as 
> the removal of herbivores had on Caribbean reefs.  Removal of large 
> predators on land and in water often sets off trophic cascades with 
> unpredicted major effects.  Because of hysteresis effects in phase shifts, 
> the vulnerability to damage may not be apparent until the phase shift has 
> happened, and trying to reverse the phase shift may be difficult or next to 
> impossible due to the hysteresis.  Is it wise for most most coral reefs 
> around the world to be missing their large fish and half or more of their 
> fish biomass??
>     For more information, see:
> Fenner, D.  2009.  The largest reef fish species were gone most places in 
> the world even before scientists knew about it.
> http://www.sharksavers.org/en/education/sharks-are-in-trouble/399-loss-of-large-fish-on-coral-reefs.html
>     or
> http://www.coralscience.org/main/articles/climate-a-ecology-15/decline-large-coral-fish
> Douglas Fenner
> American Samoa 
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