The orange-spotted grouper is widely targeted for food, for the live reef fish trade, and as a recreational fish. Although commonly produced in hatcheries, juveniles are also extensively taken from the wild for culture, particularly in Southeast Asia, so removing individuals that might otherwise go on to reproduce and supplement the wild stock (1) (2). This take is currently unregulated (1), and the fish farms can potentially bring their own problems, such as the spread of disease and parasites, water pollution, and the unsustainable capture of other fish species as feed (5). Habitat loss in the form of reef destruction and the loss of mangroves, a key nursery habitat for juveniles, is a further threat to the species (1).
For such a significant commercial fish, surprisingly little is known about the biology of the orange-spotted grouper, and there is a lack of accurate catch data, particularly as the species is often misidentified (1) (2) (3). However, populations are believed to be decreasing, with significant declines in catch rates reported in many areas (1) (2). It is unlikely that the heavy harvest of this species is sustainable in the long-term, particularly in light of its vulnerability to overexploitation as a result of its long lifespan, slow growth, and tendency to group together in spawning aggregations (1) (2) (4). In addition, the minimum sizes captured are often below the size of sexual maturity, and below the size at which sexual transition to the male occurs, so potentially leading to female-biased sex ratios and a lack of reproductive adults in the wild population (1) (4).