Protecting threatened Over-seas biodiversity

Nassau grouper


Species factsheet

  • LIFE area: Saint-Martin
  • Scientific name: Epinephelus striatus
  • Conservation status (IUCN): Critically endangered (CR)
  • Diet: Fish, crustaceans
  • Behaviour: Not shy
  • Hábitat: West Indies
  • State of the population: Only partially known

Our aims

Consultation working groups
Good practice guide
1 regulatory decree
1 participative network of « grouper » watchdogs
(Français) 1 étude sur la colonisation
et les populations persistantes



Other than a prefectural decree regulating sport fishing at sea and the protection afforded by the Saint-Martin national nature reserve (RNN), there are no regulations. Without observing what occurs in markets and at landing sites, present data on fishing and the species conservation are incomplete.

Habitat destruction:

Building activity and tourism on Saint-Martin participate in habitat destruction due to coastal development, wastewater discharges, clearing of coastal scrub and coral reefs visiting.

Global changes :

Coral reefs and mangroves, the species habitats, are also suffering from global climate change with resulting decrease in coral area and periods of coral bleaching and the impact of recurrent cyclones.

Les actions

Mobilisation of those involved:

In order to better understand the practices of professional and sport fishermen, consultation meetings and working groups will be organised so as to better understand the difficulties and issues of each group, to define sustainable management practices for the species population and obtain commitments from fishermen.

prepare a proposition for a decree:

Although a prefectural decree regulating fishing activities is being revised, consultation work will be organised in order to propose a prefectural decree regulating fishing for the species at Saint-Martin outside the reserve as well as extending the present limits within which Saint-Martin natural nature reserve management group sworn officials will have jurisdiction.

Good practice guide:

A good practice guide for sport fishermen, developed with their participation will include species details, conservation issues, program actions, reminder of present decrees, techniques for sustainable fishing as well as main safety instructions and telephone numbers to use to report illegal fishing.


Exploratory fishing will be carried out with the aim of increasing our knowledge of larval recruitment into the population in order to eventually carry out restocking of the Saint-Martin population. Monitoring of changes in the species density and biomass will also be carried out as part of the project.

The expert

Amandine VASLET:

Doctor of marine biology and independent consultant.

What is your job?

I acquired a PhD in marine biology in 2009, I studied at the University of Quadaloupe on temporal and special distribution of fish communities in mangroves and the diet of these fish by using stable isotope techniques. I am presently an environmental consultant and am working on a project with the Saint-Martin RNN within the FRECOR (French Initiative for Coral Reefs) framework to analyse reef monitoring data (benthos and fish) at Saint-Martin.  

For how long have you been working with the species?

I studied fish populations for by PhD thesis, and since for a post-doctorate in the USA and Belize. Juvenile groupers, including those of the Nassau grouper, are present in the mangrove and sea-grass bed ecosystem that serve as nurseries, especially protecting them from predators.

What do the local people think of the species?

The Nassau grouper, as most groupers, is much appreciated by local people.

Can you give any particular interesting feature of the species?

The Nassau Grouper produces a sound by contracting its swim bladder in order to intimidate predators. This can sometimes be heard when approaching a fish underwater.

How has the species fared since you’ve been studying it? What figures do you have today?

  Population monitoring of the species at Saint-Martin within the AMP framework has shown that Nassau grouper density is quite low, once at sites outside the reserve. During a 2018 census only 1 individual was found.

What are the main threats and the reason for its decline?

Commercial and recreational fishing, especially catching them when they group together during breeding; as well as the destruction and deterioration of their coastal habitats that serve as nurseries (mangroves and marine Phanerogam beds).

What do you want from the LIFE BIODIV’OM program concerning the conservation of this species?

This project will help to increase the density of this protected and emblematic species within Saint-Martin and surrounding waters.