Key aspects of the biology, fisheries and management of Coral grouper
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Coral grouper (genus Plectropomus), or coral trout, are members of the grouper family (Epinephelidae) and are one of the largest and most conspicuous predatory fishes on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. They are highly-prized food fishes that are targeted by subsistence, artisanal, commercial and recreational fisheries throughout their geographic range. Plectropomus have broadly similar diets and habitat requirements to other tropical groupers, but typically have faster growth and higher natural mortality rates. Although these characteristics are expected to increase population turnover and reduce innate vulnerability to environmental and anthropogenic impacts relative to other groupers, many Plectropomus populations are in decline due to the combined effects of overfishing and habitat degradation. In many locations, stock depletion from uncontrolled fishing, particularly at spawning aggregation sites, has resulted in local fishery collapse. Therefore, improved management of wild populations is urgently required to ensure conservation and sustainable fisheries of Plectropomus. Where possible, a combination of no-take marine reserves, market-based management approaches, and allocation or resurrection of property rights systems are recommended to complement conventional fishery management actions that limit catch and effort. Additional investment in aquaculture propagation is also needed to reduce fishing pressure on wild stocks and support management initiatives. This global synthesis of information pertaining to the biology, fisheries and management of Plectropomus will assist in guiding future management actions that are attempting to address a range of stressors including fishing, reef habitat degradation, and the escalating effects of climate change.
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