Current Status of the Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) in Turkey and Recommendations for its Protection
The dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) has been fished for almost 10.000 years in the Mediterranean Sea, which always played an important role within the coastal fishery activities. Due to certain life history traits of the species (i.e. slow growth, long life span, late maturation, complex reproductive cycles etc.), existing stocks are currently under threat of direct or indirect effects of fishing and the capture fishery statistics indicate a sharp decline in the annual production during the last two decades. This paper concisely presents a review of the general biological characteristics of E.marginatus with special emphasize on Turkish coasts, where fishery of the species has long been poorly managed. Establishment of no fishing zones along the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts and an increase in minimum landing size (to 45 cm total length) are urgent measures to be taken within the next 1 – 2 years. A fisheries ban for the species is also suggested (within 3 – 5 years) as an additional conservation action, since stock replenishment of the dusky grouper in Turkey seems to be impossible if the above mentioned measures are not seriously taken by the government.