The spawning behaviour of the camouflage grouper means that there are large numbers of fish in certain areas at predictable times, making them a valuable target for fishermen.In some areas, locals hunt the camouflage grouper using spear fishing techniques (6), but the greater threat to this species comes from commercial fishing which takes huge numbers of camouflage groupers out of the oceans from spawning aggregations (4). Whilst no-one is certain of the implications of this large-scale commercial fishing (7), this species is known to be one of the top three groupers taken by fisheries in Japan (8) and Palau (9).
When the camouflage grouper is brought to the surface waters, the great reduction in pressure causes gas expansion in the fish’s swim bladder and is potentially fatal. However, the fishermen puncture the swim bladder using a hypodermic needle in order to keep the fish alive (8). Camouflage groupers are worth more alive, forming part of the Live Reef Fish Food Trade, a billion-dollars-per-year industry (7). Many are then taken to Hong Kong and sold to wealthy restaurants in China, where groupers are one of the most sought-after live fish dishes (7).