Arlington, Virginia (March 21, 2007) The first comprehensive assessment of the worlds 162 species of grouper, a culinary favorite and important commercial fish, found that 20 are threatened with extinction unless proper management or conservation measures are introduced. Eight species previously were listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as under extinction threat, and the new assessment proposes adding 12 more.
A panel of 20 experts from 10 nations determined the extinction threat facing groupers, which are the basis of the multimillion-dollar live reef food fish trade based in Hong Kong and comprise one of the most valuable groups of commercial fishes in chilled fish markets of the tropics and sub-tropics. Around the world, consumers pay up to $50 per kilogram for grouper.
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 Internationals Marine Program.
The ground-breaking workshop at the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity of the University of Hong Kong was the first systematic assessment of the commercially important species, said Dr. Yvonne Sadovy, Chair of the IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group and Associate Professor at HKU.
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 Sadovy, who organized the workshop.
The workshop is part of a worldwide study of marine life called the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA) by IUCN, Conservation International and numerous other partners that provides scientists with baseline data for analyzing threats to ocean species.