The Dusky Grouper is generally caught using long line fishing gear; this is also the case in Malta. They are also caught by spearfishing, sometimes with the use of aqualungs which is illegal. Low levels of enforcement mean that this practice is still known to happen quite often.
Dusky grouper is found throughout the year however most of the time it is imported from countries such as Italy.
It is a protogynous hermaphrodite meaning it changes sex as it matures. They generally start out as females and become males as they grow. The oldest grouper ever found was approximately 50 years old. It is considered to be one of the tastiest fish in the Mediterranean. The Spanish say; De la mar el mero y de la tierra el carnero, which means that the grouper (mero) is the tastiest animal found in the sea while the lamb (carnero) is the tastiest animal found on land.
The Dusky Grouper is considered to be overexploited and is listed as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. Numerous factors have been said to contribute to this.
The grouper’s biological features mean it is slow to reach sexual maturity and is often caught before it can spawn. Since the grouper changes sex as it grows and most fishing efforts aim at the larger of the species, this creates an imbalance in the female to male ratio meaning that females are a lot more abundant than males.
Another problem is said to be the grouper’s loss of habitat through overdevelopment and pollution. Their food resources, which mainly consist of octopus and other fish, have also been depleted due to overfishing.
There have been large declines in grouper landings from 1991 to 2001; up to a 95% decline in Italy. It is estimated that there has been a population reduction of 50% over the past 3 generations.
Groupers are slowly becoming more abundant in France, Spain, and Italy in Marine Protected Areas where fishing is banned completely.
fish for tomorrow suggests that you avoid the Dusky Grouper due to its over exploitation and vulnerability. If you do buy grouper, you should know that it is illegal to catch groupers under 45cm in length.