Groupers (Epinephelus) and coralgroupers (Plectropomus) are high-value food fish. They are particular favorites in the live reef food fish trade, with the camouflage grouper being one of the most common fish species imported to Hong Kong for this purpose. The high market demand has put intense fishing pressure on many grouper and coralgrouper species in the Indo-Pacific, leading to population declines. Certain species are particularly susceptible to overfishing due to their habit of forming large spawning aggregations at the same place and time each year.
WCS is currently monitoring frequency of all sightings of groupers during our coral reef assessments. We are additionally working with local communities to incorporate grouper habitat requirements into Marine Protected Area (MPA) network designs. To boost awareness of the threat to groupers and other fish species vulnerable to overharvesting, WCS has produced fish ruler stickers showing the minimum size at maturity and which fish are particularly threatened in Fiji. We are supporting the Ministry of Fisheries on a national campaign to protect groupers during their key spawning times from June to September each year, and protect key aggregation sites. We are encouraging fishers to release all fish caught below reproductive size.