New rules agreed to save threatened Maldives grouper stocks

August 23, 2021

Maldives has introduced new measures to curb the decline of wild grouper, a coral reef fish vital for reef health. The new measures include revised minimum size limits for the most highly valued grouper species, based on evidence collected by the Maldives Marine Research Institute (MMRI), formerly Marine Research Centre and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE).

The MMRI reported that, within just five years of the export fishery starting, grouper stocks were already declining. In 2011, research by MMRI found that 70 per cent of groupers landed for the export trade were immature and their latest research (published in 2020) shows that 90 per cent of the most highly valued grouper species landed are immature (see images below).  This is because groupers are highly susceptible to overfishing. They are long-lived, take a long time to reproduce and they change sex as they grow. Crucially, they aggregate to breed in the same locations at predictable times of the month, making them easy targets for fishermen.

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