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Lutjanus sebae

Emperor red snapper
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Image of Lutjanus sebae (Emperor red snapper)
Lutjanus sebae
Juvenile picture by Ryanskiy, A.

Australia country information

Common names: Emperor red snapper, Government bream, King snapper
Occurrence: native
Salinity: brackish
Abundance: common (usually seen) | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Importance: minor commercial | Ref: Johannes, R.E. and J.W. MacFarlane, 1991
Aquaculture: never/rarely | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Regulations: restricted | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Uses: live export: yes;
Comments: Present in Australian waters from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Sydney in New South Wales (Ref. 6390), including the Torres Strait Islands (Ref. 13465). Stock structure: It is believed that there is probably a unit stock for red emperor species in northern Australian waters (Ref. 6390). More studies are needed to verify this. Commercial fishery: In Western Australia and the Northern Territory, red emperors are caught by demersal and semi-pelagic otter trawls, traps, droplines, and deepwaters handlines (Western Australia). In Queensland, they are also longlined. The fisheries operate all year. Red emperors are common in trap and line fisheries as well as in trawl fisheries. Sea perch (mainly 'redfish') were a dominant group of fishes in Thai and Taiwanese trawler catches in the Arafura Sea and Timor Sea, comprising up to 30% of the total catch; and between 1985 and 1987 on the North West Shelf, sea perch were the third most important fish group taken by demersal foreign trawling. The highest catches of 'redfish' per unit of effort by the foreign fleets in the period 1980-90 were achieved in the Arafura Sea and retained catches of 'redfish' per unit of effort by Taiwanese (and some Thai) trawlers of 100-150 kg/hour were common in the Timor Sea and higher in the Arafura Sea. Red emperors are caught in the Great Barrier Reef Reef Line Fishery as well as in east Queensland coastal waters. The Fishery operates all year between Torres Strait to south of the Swain Reefs and into Moreton Bay, with most of the catch being taken between Cardwell and Mackay (Ref. 27260). There are seasonal peaks in catch and effort - especially during the period August - October (Ref. 27260). 'Redfish' on the Great Barrier Reef are targeted primarily at night. Handlines, large, deck-mounted, hand-operated reels and bottom set longlines are used, and baits include squid, oily fish and lower quality reef fish (Ref. 27262). In 1980-81, red emperors were the main 'redfish' recorded in catches, comprising 17% of the total commercial catch around Cairns, 4% around Townsville and 5% around Mackay (Ref. 27260). In the Northern Territory, red emperors are targeted in the trap fishery operating in Timor Sea. The traps are of various designs with a single entrance. The traps are baited with oily fish such as pilchards (Sardinops neopilchardus) placed inside bait boxes or bags. Tropical snappers (Pristipomoides species) and red emperors comprise nearly 50% each of the catch from the trap fishery, in which rock cod and other species of sea perch comprise the small bycatch. The 3 'redfish' species are also caught as a bycatch of the Northern Territory dropline fishery for tropical snapper. Red emperors are targeted in the Western Australian Trap and Line Fishery, which began on the North West Shelf in 1984 (Ref. 28006). Handlining had been carried out from boats working inshore and the islands before that year (Ref. 27266). The main area for trapping is now north of Broome and some fishing is also carried out off Port Hedland. Fish traps used in Western Australia are mostly circular ('O' traps) and are baited usually with pilchards. Red emperors are the dominant sea perch taken in the trap fishery (Ref. 27266). Sea perch as a whole are marketed either gilled and gutted, whole or as fillets, as fresh chilled or frozen product. Northern Territory and Queensland sea perch are marketed locally (eg in Darwin, and on the Reef island and tourist resorts) and in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Recreational fishery: Red emperors are caught by recreational fishers using handlines and sometimes rod-and-line. The most common baits are cut fish flesh, pilchards and squid. In Western Australia, the recreational fishery extends from the Houtman Abrolhos to Broome. In the Northern Territory, red emperors are commonly caught offshore. Recreational fishing on the Great Barrier Reef is carried out by small vessels (from 3 m long) working inshore reefs and larger charter vessels working the more remote outer reefs. Recreational landings of 'redfish' on the Great Barrier Reef are about the same as the commercial catch from the Reef. Red emperors are caught relatively more commonly in the Cairns region (17% of the total recreational catch) than in areas further south such as Townsville and Mackay (Ref. 27260). The record size for sea perch in Australian waters is 17.6 kg, from Western Australia (Australian Anglers Association records). Resource status: Lutjanids comprised 20-30% of the fish biomass in the mid-shelf area of the North West Shelf (115°30' and 118°30' E) during the 1960s and early 1970s (Ref. 28006). By 1983 however, they comprised less than 10% of the biomass following a period of intensive fishing by Taiwanese trawlers (Ref. 28006). In 1990, Queensland fishers considered that the 'redfish' and emperor resources in the Reef Line Fishery were in decline (Ref. 27262). Generally, the decline was concentrated very close to the coast, away from major commercial fishing activity on the Great Barrier Reef coral reefs - except possibly for Cairns (Ref. 27260). The catch rates and the size of reef fish caught by the offshore charter boat fleet on the Reef from 1963 until 1992 remained fairly stable (Ref. 27260). Museum: North West Cape to Darwin, LPPL JIF62 (Ref. 5978). Also Ref. 9987, 2334.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
National Database:

Common names from other countries

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes (Perch-likes) > Lutjanidae (Snappers) > Lutjaninae
Etymology: Lutjanus: Malay, ikan lutjan, name of a fish.   More on author: .

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; brackish; reef-associated; depth range 5 - 180 m (Ref. 6390).   Tropical; 34°N - 36°S, 34°E - 159°E (Ref. 55)

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Indo-West Pacific: southern Red Sea and East Africa to New Caledonia, north to southern Japan, south to Australia.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 54.2, range 49 - ? cm
Max length : 116 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5738); common length : 60.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 55); max. published weight: 32.7 kg (Ref. 5738); max. reported age: 40 years (Ref. 96972)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15-16; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 10. Dorsal profile of head steeply sloped. Preorbital bone broad. Preopercular notch and knob moderately developed. Scale rows on back rising obliquely above lateral line. Generally red or pink, darker on the back; fins are red except the pectorals which is pink. Juveniles and small adults have a dark red band from first dorsal spine through eye to tip of snout; a 2nd band from mid-dorsal fin to pelvic fin; a 3rd from base of last dorsal spine to caudal peduncle. Large adults become uniformly red (Ref. 9710). Note: (TL, cm) = 1.00 + 1.24 (SL, cm); n = 828 (Ref. 1450). Body depth 2.6-3.0 in SL (Ref. 90102).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults occur in the vicinity of coral or rocky reefs (Ref. 5484), often over adjacent sand flats and gravel patches (Ref. 55). Also trawled in deeper water on relatively flat bottoms. Juveniles are frequently commensal with sea urchins (Ref. 55). Juveniles less than 20 cm long are common in near shore, turbid waters (Ref. 27260), in mangrove areas (Ref. 55), or among both coastal and deeper water offshore reefs (Ref. 27260). Juveniles can also be found swimming amongst the spines of urchins in shallow coastal bays (Ref. 48635). They move to deeper waters as they grow larger (Ref. 27264), with large fish often moving into shallower water during the winter months (Ref. 27260, 27264). They form schools of similar-sized individuals or are solitary (Ref. 6390). Feed on fishes, crabs, stomatopods, other benthic crustaceans and cephalopods. Marketed fresh, dried-salted and frozen (Ref. 9987). Commercially important but in certain regions of the Indian Ocean, large individuals are known to cause ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 11888).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Emperor red snappers are broadcast spawners (Ref. 28009).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Allen, G.R., 1985. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 6. Snappers of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of lutjanid species known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(6):208 p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 55)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)

CITES (Ref. 115941)

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 11888)

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial
FAO(Publication : search) | FishSource |

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 22.9 - 28.5, mean 27.1 (based on 1153 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01380 (0.01011 - 0.01885), b=3.04 (2.95 - 3.13), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.1   ±0.4 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.13-0.38; tmax=35; Fec=5 million).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High vulnerability (59 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   High.