Farmed

Giant Grouper

Epinephelus lanceolatus

Common Name(s)

English: Brindle Bass, Brindled Grouper, Queensland Groper ; French: Mérou Lancéolé ; Spanish: Mero Lanceolade

Low

Farms are certified to a third-party aquaculture standard OR farming activities are intrinsically low impact (e.g. rope cultivation of filter feeding shellfish).

High

At least one of the environmental risk criteria has been scored high risk, and this is having a significant impact on the sustainability of the operation.

Traditional Chinese

花尾龍躉, 'Fa Mei Long Dun'

Simplified Chinese

鞍帶石斑魚

Japanese

Tamakai

Vietnamese

Cá Mú song

Malaysian

Kerapu pertang

Indonesian

Kerapu lumpur

Date of Assessments

November 2020

Peer Reviewer

Not Yet Reviewed

Assessment Organisation

RS Standards

SEASONAL AVAILABILITY

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D

Overview

  • Giant Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) is the largest bony fish found among coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific oceans, frequently growing over a meter long.
  • The vast majority of grouper aquaculture is carried out in Asia. Unfortunately data from the FAO does not identify species level within the genus Epinephelus.
  • A variety of systems are employed in grouper aquaculture, including floating cages and ponds, offshore circular cages, and land-based tanks. Giant grouper are typically reared in either offshore cages or land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), catering for the demand for live fish in restaurants.
  • Depending on the species and sophistication of the operation, grouper feed may consist of trash fish or pellet feed. Feed conversion ratios are very high (and unsustainable) for grouper fed on trash fish though can be made much lower for pellet feed used in RAS facilities.
  • Giant grouper in particular, compared with other grouper species, is a promising aquaculture species due to its fast growth rate and relatively low food conversion ratio. It also fetches the highest price of any grouper species on menus in Chinese restaurants (Yang, 2016).
  • There are no E.lanceolatus producers found among aquaculture seafood certification ratings, namely Best Aquaculture Practices, Seafood Watch, and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

Net pens / cages, marine fish

The design of the cage may be circular or square, and sophistication ranges from homemade floating bamboo cages to commercially produced cages with high quality materials. Broodstock are often held in land-based tanks alongside nursery operations. Once the nursery stage is complete, fingerlings are transferred to the net cages where they are grown to market size. Feeding is conducted daily, and size grading occurs once a month to reduce the risk of cannibalism. Net cages should be moved every 2-3 years to prevent negative impacts to the bottom habitat below. The floating cages are often homemade with locally available and inexpensive materials. Many marine fish species are commonly raised this way.

Earthen Ponds - giant grouper

Ponds are commonly used in many aquaculture operations across the world because they can be low-cost and easy to construct. Ponds for giant grouper culture are prepared and fertilized, then may receive adult tilapia to feed on the naturally occurring algae and to serve as live prey. The giant grouper fingerlings are added a month after the tilapia, and additional feeding commonly occur. Grading takes place periodically to reduce cannibalism, and the pond’s water quality is typically tested daily, with aerators used as needed.

Recirculating Aquaculture System

Recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology is a relatively new system but holds promise, particularly for raising finfish. The system is made up of land-based tanks with water filtering technology that enables the facility to operate in a closed loop. The only outputs are filtered water and waste, though some systems are able to collect fish/feed waste and use as fertilizer elsewhere, further improving the sustainability of this system. Due to its technology and energy requirements, RAS has high upfront costs, but is increasingly being implemented by new companies. Several producers in Asia are using RAS to grow giant grouper.

  • The latin species name
  • Evidence of the country of origin, name and location of the farm
  • Evidence that the farm is compliant with national regulations
  • Evidence that production is controlled in a way that minimises impact on the wider marine environment (i.e. there is local planning, water quality testing etc.)
  • Evidence of where the seed originates
  • Evidence that the seed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence of where the feed originates
  • Evidence that the feed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence that the farm does not use any banned medicines / chemicals
  • Evidence that there is a plan / procedure in place to manage animal husbandry

FISHERIES IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS

No Known FIP

COUNTRY SPECIFIC RISK ASSESSMENTS

  • Giant Grouper production in China can be considered to be a high risk. There is limited information available to complete a full risk assessment.
  • Feed is a mix of trash fish and commercially produced pellets. Trash fish is an unsustainable source of feed as it relies on high amounts of wild caught species to produce smaller amounts of farmed species, and also contributes to increased pollution from the farm.
  • Historically, grouper aquaculture has been conducted in brackish water ponds or floating sea cages; however, land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are being promoted as the newest and most sustainable technology for raising grouper, particularly Epinephelus lancelatus (see ATA profile for Hong Kong).
  • Giant Grouper production in Taiwan can be considered to be a high risk.
  • Trash fish is still the most common type of feed used in grouper aquaculture in Taiwan. This source is unsustainable as it utilizes large amounts of marine protein for a smaller output, and pollutes the culture environment. A commercial pellet feed has been developed but is not widely used.
  • Disease represents a major obstacle for Taiwan’s grouper aquaculture industry. High stocking densities are still the norm and Nervous Necrosis Virus (NNV) affects grouper at every stage of production, commonly infecting hatchery-reared juveniles.
  • There is a risk of escapes from the farm, though the best available evidence suggests that it is unlikely that the cultured species will establish in the wild.
  • The operation does not rely on the collection of wild seed. Giant grouper artificial breeding was achieved in Taiwan in the 1990s and the island now has a successful hatchery industry, supplying larvae and juveniles to grow-out facilities and other countries in the region.
  • Giant Grouper production by Aquaculture Technologies Asia (ATA) in Hong Kong can be considered to be a low risk.
  • Using its own recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) technology, this large-scale, indoor farming facility is the first to be recognized as an accredited fish farm by the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department of Hong Kong.
  • Giant Grouper production in Indonesia can be considered to be a high risk.
  • Grouper aquaculture production in Indonesia is a relatively new industry, with significant advancements made in the last 20 years. Ever-increasing demand from China for live groupers, alongside declining wild populations, has driven development in farming techniques, with support from the Indonesian government in expanding the industry.
  • Trash fish is most commonly used as grouper feed in Indonesia, but is an unsustainable source of protein that also has a negative impact on environmental quality and contributes to the spread of disease. Unfortunately, a commercial pellet feed is much more expensive than trash fish and without proven growth benefits.
  • Indonesia is a major producer of grouper seed stock from second-generation broodstock in closed loop hatchery production, though a portion of the country’s aquaculture production still depends on wild-caught seed.