NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Widely distributed in the tropical western Atlantic; historically prevalent among many types of shallow-water hard-bottom habitats; estimates of extant occurrences based upon known spawning aggregations indicate at least 28 sites; at least five aggregation sites have disappeared from Bermuda, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and perhaps Mexico in the past 30 years; considered extremely threatened throughout most of range, particularly from intense fishing of spawning aggregations; life history characteristics make this species particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Although stringent management measures (moratorium on catch) have been enacted in U.S. territorial waters, few, if any, spawning aggregations in the wider Caribbean are protected; the only protection afforded are a few no-fishing zones in Saba, central Bahamas, Belize, and the Florida Keys. Available information suggests that recovery of spawning aggregations has not occurred 20 years after commercial overfishing.
Other Considerations: Slow growth, delayed reproduction, and site-specific aggregated spawning make this species vulnerable to overexploitation (Sullivan and de Garine 1990; Sadovy 1990, in press; Colin 1992; Sadovy and Colin 1995; Domeier and Colin 1997).