Name of Fishery

Hook and line caught Spiny cheek Grouper off Kochi

Target Species

Spiny cheek Grouper (Epinephelus diacanthus)


INDIA (off Kochi)

Fishing Area

FAO 51

Fishery History

How long has the fishery been in operation? Describe changes in the fishery over time.

Hook and line fishery has been reported off Kerala as early as 1954 by Gopinath; however, the hook and line fishing made its appearance off Cochin, only in the early nineteen eighties (Mathew and Venugopal, 1990). Large sized fishes are exploited by hooks and line. The annual landings of groupers at Cochin Fisheries Harbour of which spiny cheek groupers (Epinephelus diacanthus) form a major portion of the hook and line landing has increased considerably over the recent years. Effort has decreased for hook and line operation at Cochin which has reflected in the decrease in the CPUE.

Stock Biology

(Stock size, structure, biomass, status, trends in population abundance, life cycle, growth, reproduction, schooling behavior, etc.)
On an All India basis, landings of groupers has shown an increase from 3251 t in 1985 to 44684 t in 2013, a steady increase over the last 27 years with highest landings recorded from the south west followed by south east and north west. The highest landings on the south west are a pointer to the presence of the rich diversity in the south west; the species composition has also showed a great variation during the period with the entry of newer species. Details on catch statistics, stock size, exploitation rate and biology of the spinycheek grouper fishery exploited by hooks and line is available from 2008.

Data on Target Species Population

(What sort of stock assessment information exists for this fishery? Is there a stock assessment? Is there catch per unit effort data? Landings data? Monitoring of biological indices? For how many years are data available? Who collects, manages, and stores the data? How are data collected?)
CMFRI is collecting information on the gear wise fishery and biology of this species. Stock assessment of this species has been done. Time series landings data is available for this species. Monitoring of biological indices is being done and data is available. Data on both fishery and biological aspects has being collected at Cochin for this gea.

Fishing Activities

(Methods, gear, size/sex/season fished)
Trawler, Hooks and line, both sexes, throughout the year except ban period. Though the fishes are landed throughout the year, the hook and line fishery is high during October –March.

Volume Caught

During the year 2016-17, an estimated 869492 kg of E. diacanthus was landed in Cochin harbor by hooks and line.

Ecosystem Impacts

(Describe how the fishery interacts with the ecosystem, including gear interactions (e.g. habitat disturbance), species interactions (e.g. bycatch, endangered species, effects on the food web), etc. Include what is found in literature as well as the local perception of the impacts.)
The fishery is a part of the regular hook and line fishery; the smaller fishes are exploited by trawls. Sivaprakasam (1986) and Dineshbabu et al (2012) reports that juveniles in the length range 52 -155 mm were recorded from 65 -58 m depth off Mangalore coast and in terms of vertical distribution from 20 to 120 m. E. diacanthus was one of the dominant species of groupers, and fishes in the 20–50 m depth zone, their abundance decreasing with depth, Joseph et al. (1987 reported that fishes were absent in the 200–500 m depth zone.

Threats to Sustainability

(Describe any additional threats to the sustainability of this fishery (e.g. outsider encroachment, coastal development, etc.). Is there anything being done to address these threats?)
During the post ban period, large number of the smaller fishes are seen to be exploited by trawls.
Minimum Legal Size has been implemented in Kerala which will hopefully prevent large scale exploitation of juveniles of this fish in Kerala.


(Describe the group of fishers. Are they women or men? How many are there? How are they organized? To what extent do fishers profit from fishing? Are profits used to provide community infrastructure?)

The fish is exploited as part of the regular fishing and not by any particular group of fishermen.

Management Agencies

(Describe the roles that institutions, agencies, or local management bodies play in the management system and their interactions with each other.)
1.Seasonal fishing ban: Closure of mechanized fishing activities for 60 days from 15th April to 15th June along east coast and 1st June to 31st July along west coast (both days inclusive), implemented through State MFRAs.
2. Gear-specific regulations: Regulation of mesh size, restrictions on operation of certain gears like ring seines, purse seines and pair trawling, implemented through State MFRAs.
3. Based on a Request Letter from DOF‐GOK G2/7527/2014 dated 26‐06‐2014, CMFRI has formulated the MLS for 44 species of fishes of which this species is also included. The MLS IS 18 cm TL.

Management Regime

(Describe how the fishery is managed. Include information for both national and local levels about rules, regulations, closed areas/seasons, quotas, limited entry/licenses, conflict resolution, adaptability, coping strategy/mitigation, etc. How often do mangers review rules and regulations? How would changes in the political regime affect management?)
1. Recommended Minimum Legal Size for E. diacanthus is 18 cm TL. Implementation of the MLS can help reduce juvenile fishing. This will
help to prevent growth overfishing of the species leading to the the maintainence of a healthy stock of marine fishes off the coast of Kerala.
2. Seasonal fishing ban: Closure of mechanized fishing activities for 60 days from 15th April to 15th June along east coast and 1st June to 31st July along west coast (both days inclusive), implemented through State MFRAs.
3. Gear-specific regulations: There is no specific regulation for Hooks and line in the KMFRAs.

Management Compliance

(Do fishers comply with the management regime? How do managers ensure compliance? Are regulations actively enforced? Do fishers comply with international regulations for species conservation?)
Yes, the fishers comply with the seasonal trawl ban and no fishing is done. Regulations are put in place strictly
MLS has been put in place only very recently. Monitoring by the marine enforcement officials can definitely reduce the juvenile landing

Community Participation in Management

(Describe how the community participates in the management of the fishery. Does the community set its own rules and regulations? How does this happen? Are they active in the governmental management system?)

This is not a community managed fishery. However, the fishermen are active in the governmental management system.

Processing and Marketing Information

(Once the product is landed, what happens to it? What is the chain from fishhook to consumer? Include how the product is processed and sold, and who processes and sells it. Where are the main markets for the fishery? Please also describe any buyers data that are available (e.g. quantity sold or exported, overall value); who collects, manages, and stores the data; how the data are collected; and the number of years for which data are available.)

Small fishes are sold in the local markets where is it is used for fresh meat for local consumption. Larger fishes are exported. Export data will be available with MPEDA

Interest in Certification

(Describe the fishery’s interest in certification. Are they interested? Why or why not?)

Can be discussed only when stakeholder workshops are held for this.


(Who are the key stakeholders in this fishery (e.g. fishing organizations, processors, agents, buyers, researchers, NGOs, fisheries/natural resources management bodies, local authorities, etc.)? How many people are involved in the fishery (including fishers, processors, sellers, boat and gear manufacturers, managers, scientists, etc.)? What percentage of the human population within the coastal community depends on the fishery for their food or livelihood?)

The key stakeholders are CMFRI, fishermen, exporters, traders.
There were 864,550 marine fishermen households in the country in which 192,697 were in Tamil Nadu, 163,427 in Andhra Pradesh and 118,937 in Kerala. Among the marine fishermen households 789,679 (91.3%) were traditional fishermen families. Nearly 61% of the marine fishermen families in the country (523,691) were Below Poverty Line (BPL). (All India Marine Fisheries Census Report, 2010 CMFRI)

Issues Requiring Special Attention

(Describe any local, regional or global controversies and/or conservation concerns that impact or involve the fishery.)

The species is presently classified under the category Near Threatened as per IUCN; however, the classification is under review.
Main concern for the fishery is exploitation of juvenile fishes below MLS which has to be stopped.

Additional Comments

(Include any additional information about this fishery or important to working with this fishery).

Epinephelus diacanthus is an Indian Ocean species found on the continental shelf of the northern Indian Ocean from the Gulf of Aden, Oman (McKoy et al. 2009; Mehanna et al. 2013) to Sri Lanka and India. It is not known from the Persian Gulf nor the Red Sea (Heemstra and Randall 1993). The fish is reported both in the Northern Indian Ocean (30°E to 80°E; 45°S to 30°N) including the Lakshadweep islands and in the Eastern Indian Ocean (77°E to 150°E; 55°S to 24°N) and the Andaman islands. (Rekha et al. 2011). Juveniles of E. diacanthus have also been recorded in the coastal waters of Pontian Johor, Peninsular Malaysia (Oh et al. 2010).
Decline not reported in any area of India but considered overexploited in the Arabian Sea. Landings have increased tremendously since 2013 in Western and Eastern Indian Ocean Regions (Rekha Nair Pers. Comm)


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Dineshbabu A. P, Sujitha Thomas and E. V. Radhakrishnan. 2012. Spatio-temporal analysis and impact assessment of trawl bycatch of Karnataka to suggest operation based fishery management options. Indian J. Fish., 59(2): 27-38.
Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. 1993. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date.
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