Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 June 2022 | 14(6): 21285–21289



ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print)

#7871 | Received 07 February 2022 | Final received 12 March 2022 | Finally accepted 22 June 2022




Landings of IUCN Red Listed finfishes at Chetlat Island of Lakshadweep, southeastern Arabian Sea


 Davood Nihal 1, N.M. Naseem 2, N. Abhirami 3  & M.P. Prabhakaran 4


1,4 Department of Aquatic Environment Management, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Panangad, Kochi, Kerala 682506, India.

1 Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE), Govt of India, Kochi, Kerala 682508, India.

2 Department of Environment and Forest, Chetlat Range, UT of Lakshadweep 682554, India.

3 Department of Aquatic Environment Management, Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Versova, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400061, India.

1 (corresponding author), 2, 3, 4




Editor: Anonymity requested.   Date of publication: 26 June 2022 (online & print)


Citation: Nihal, D., N.M. Naseem, N. Abhirami & M.P. Prabhakaran (2022). Landings of IUCN Red Listed finfishes at Chetlat Island of Lakshadweep, southeastern Arabian Sea. Journal of Threatened Taxa 14(6): 21285–21289.


Copyright: © Nihal et al. 2022. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: Self-funded.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: All the authors are grateful to Department of Environment and Forest, UT of Lakshadweep India and Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Panangad, Kochi, India.




Abstract: The Lakshadweep Islands are well-known for their abundant fishery resources. Present study primarily focused on the systematic representation of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red Listed marine finfish landings of Chetlat Island of Lakshadweep archipelago (India). Monthly collections were carried out from September 2019 to February 2020 from the study area. A list of finfishes along with their scientific name, common name, family, and present conservation status was prepared. As per the IUCN Red List, out of 41 fish species identified, one species is ‘Endangered’ (EN), two species are ‘Near Threatened’ (NT), four species are ‘Vulnerable’ (VU), one species ‘Data Deficient’ (DD), 29 species ‘Least Concern’ (LC), and four species are ‘Not Evaluated’ (NE) categories. Information on the conservation status of fishes plays a significant role in fisheries science since it forms the basis for managing marine fishery resources.


Keywords: Conservation status, fisheries, island, India, marine fishes.




India is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and is considered as one of the world’s  richest biodiversity countries. Fisheries contribute significantly to India’s national economy (1.21% of total gross domestic product (GDP) and 5.3% of agricultural GDP) and bestow  livelihoods to about 10 million people (Infantina et al. 2016). Fishery resources in India are one of the most diversified and most significant natural resources in the world with respect to the abundance of fish species. Marine ecosystems are currently facing an intensified loss of species and populations due to increasing anthropogenic activities, with unknown consequences (Worm et al. 2006). There is a significant alarm about the increasing human interference on marine biodiversity in recent years (Costello et al 2010; Nihal et al. 2021). Since the 1950s, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has issued lists of endangered species, which have been compiled as Red Data Books and Red Lists (Butchart et al. 2005). The IUCN Red List (2017) categorized the species into nine groups based on their population size, rate of decline, geographic distribution area, degree of population, and distribution fragmentation. These include Extinct (EX), Extinct in the wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD), and Not Evaluated (NE). The islands of Lakshadweep form India’s smallest Union Territory and are typical atolls formed by the perpetual deposition of corals (Tripathy 2002). The archipelago of Lakshadweep, located in the southern Arabian Sea, encompasses 36 islands that make up a group of India’s major coral reef complex (Vyshnavi et al. 2020). Fisheries support thousands of fisherman families in and around the island’s coastal settlements. The atolls offers a network of habitats for a variety of fish species, both resident and migratory. It forms a model marine system where differentiation of ecologically sensitive and vulnerable regions is challenging due to dependence on its resources. As our knowledge on marine biodiversity is yet inadequate to guide our actions, a careful approach, such as establishing marine reserves, may be required (Tripathy 2002). The fisheries in the Lakshadweep Islands have always been sustainable and subsistence oriented. Tuna and needlefish account for around 95% of the total commercial fisheries in the Lakshadweep Islands, where fishing is the primary source of income (Vinay et al. 2017). These fishes have traditionally been caught with troll line, pole and line, handline and drift gillnet. Knowledge regarding the condition of threatened species biodiversity is critical for protecting species in the wild from extinction and conserving them via good management so they can continue to exist in their natural habitat (Pimm et al. 2015). The ability to tackle biodiversity management and conservation is highly dependent on a thorough understanding of the taxonomy of the flora and fauna that make up biodiversity (Joshi et al. 2016). We have carried out a survey of IUCN Red Listed species of various species landed, and the findings of the same are depicted in this manuscript.


Materials and Methods

Chetlat is an atoll within the Lakshadweep archipelago in the Arabian Sea, off the west coast of India. It is 56 km north of Amini and 432 km (233 nautical miles) west of Kochi. It is located between 11.68 & 11.71 N and 72.68 & 72.71 E and covers an area of 1.40 km2 (Fig 1). The samples were taken every month from fisherman during September 2019 to February 2020 from the study area. The collected fish species were identified using standard references and keys (Misra 1952; Ebert & Mostarda 2013; Froese & Pauly 2021). A Canon IXUS 190 digital camera was used to acquire the fish photographs. During the auction, fish samples were chosen at random from each mound. All of the samples were rinsed thoroughly with tap water, and preserved in 10% formaldehyde for subsequent analysis in the laboratory. The data on the conservation status of the collected fishes were ascertained according to their IUCN Red List status (IUCN Red List 2017). The data regarding gears used for catching different fishes were obtained from local fishermen.



During the present study, 654 marine fishes belonging to 41 distinct fish species under 20 different families were identified. The Red List status of all identified species was examined, and 41 of them were found to be listed under the 2017 IUCN Red List. The detailed information on species name, family, common name, and IUCN status is given in Table 1. Scombridae was the most represented, out of 20 families, with seven fish species. Lutjanidae was second most represented with four species belonging under it. Belonidae and Carcharhinidae were represented by three species from each family. Two species were represented by each of the following families including Istiophoridae, Carangidae, Serranidae, Lethrinidae, Dasyatidae, Acanthuridae, Spratelloididae, and Mullidae. Only one species from the families of Xiphiidae, Sphyraenidae, Coryphaenidae, Exocoetidae, Hemiramphidae, Alopiidae, Gerreidae, and Pinguipedidae was recorded. Out of the 41 fish species sampled, one species was ‘Endangered’, four species were ‘Vulnerable’, two species were ‘Near Threatened’, 29 species were ‘Least Concern’, one species was ‘Data Deficient’, and four species were ‘Not Evaluated’ as per the IUCN Red List (Figure 2). The scombroid fishes collected were caught using the gears including pole & line and hook & line. The fishes belonging to the family Carcharhinidae and Carangidae were caught using hook & line. Handlines, gill nets and cast nets were used to catch the fishes coming under the families of Lethrinidae and Lutjanidae. Seine nets were used to catch belonids.



The fish diversity in Chetlat was studied using visual examination and descriptive statistics. Tuna, needle fish, sword fish, wahoo, trevally, grouper, sharks, dolphin fish, half beak, sailfish, red snapper, marlins, unicorn fish, emperor fish, goat fish, sting ray, carangids, and perches were among the most common landings in the study area. Scombridae constituted the major catch out of the fishes sampled. The islanders’ major source of income is tuna fishing, which takes place for roughly six months, from October to April and forms the major resource (Vinay et al. 2017). Tunas are highly migratory, effective epipelagic predators found more prevalent in the Indian exclusive economic zone’s oceanic island regions, particularly Lakshadweep (Kumar et al. 2020). Among the fishes identified, Alopias pelagicus (pelagic thresher) constitutes the only fish coming under endangered category as per IUCN status. The pelagic thresher is abundantly captured in gill nets and longlines, and is especially abundant in tuna fisheries. It has been found that intense exploitation would be unsustainable considering the pelagic thresher’s vulnerability (Camhi 2008). Carcharhinus limbatus and Scoliodon laticaudus belong to the ‘Near Threatened’ category possibly due to the recent population decline documented across its range and hence there is a pressing need for monitoring and regulation (Antony et al. 2014; Smart et al. 2017; Haque et al. 2019). Unsustainable development activities, a rise in human population, overexploitation, and climate change substantially influences the biodiversity of the island (KSCSTE 2013). Overexploitation of these species for food is a primary concern, which has resulted in dramatic population decrease. Anthropogenic interventions have disastrous consequences for island biodiversity. Therefore, conservationists and policymakers must pay close attention (Bijukumar et al. 2015). In 2020, 164,000 tonnes of fishes were landed in Lakshadweep, a 28 percent decrease from the previous year (of 22,929 tonnes) following the same trend of decline as in the preceding year 2018–2019 (CMFRI 2019; 2020). This could be attributed by the improper management and overexploitation of fishery resources. Understanding a region’s fish diversity is regarded as critical not only for management but also for conservation and sustainable utilization of fishery resources (Nihal et al. 2021). Proper utilisation of fish discards at the landing centre for fish meal and fertilizer production purposes would prevent the depletion of such resources in the near future. Insular ecosystem rich in endemism is more susceptible to species depletion due to its small population being restricted to live in specific habitats (Andrades et al. 2018). Previous studies on the conservation status of fishes are scanty in Lakshadweep, particularly in Chetlat Island. Covid scenario might be also considered as a reason for the reduction in fish catch correlated with the smaller number of fishing days. In light of the above findings, the current study aims to offer a well-documented checklist of major finfishes in Chetlat waters, its diversity, species composition and IUCN status. Conservation and management plans must be developed to ensure the future of island ecosystem. The baseline data on fish distribution and diversity will aid in the design of successful conservation strategies for insular ecosystems such as Chetlat atoll.


Table 1. List of species recorded from the study area with common name, family and present conservation status.



Common name


IUCN Red List status


Ablennes hians (Valenciennes, 1846)

Flat Needlefish




Acanthocybium solandri (Cuvier, 1832)





Alopias pelagicus Nakamura, 1935

Pelagic Thresher




Aprion virescens Valenciennes, 1830

Green Jobfish




Auxis thazard (Lacepede, 1800)

Frigate Tuna




Belone belone (Linnaeus, 1760)





Caranx ignobilis (Forsskal, 1775)

Giant Trevally




Carcharhinus limbatus (Valenciennes, 1839)

Blacktip Shark




Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758

Common Dolphinfish




Elagatis bipinnulata (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825)

Rainbow Runner




Epinephelus erythrurus (Valenciennes, 1828)

Cloudy Grouper




Epinephelus fasciatus (Forsskal, 1775)

Blacktip Grouper




Euthynnus affinis (Cantor1849)





Exocoetus volitans Linnaeus, 1758

Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish




Gerres microphthalmus IwatsukiKimura & Yoshino, 2002

Small-eyed Whipfin Mojarra




Gymnosarda unicolor (Ruppell, 1836)

Dogtooth Tuna




Hemiramphus far (Forsskal, 1775)

Black-barred Halfbeak




Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw, 1792)

Indo-Pacific Sailfish




Katsuwonus pelamis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Skipjack Tuna




Lethrinus lentjan (Lacepede, 1802)

Pink Ear Emperor




Lutjanus bohar (Forsskal, 1775)

Two-spot Red Snapper




Lutjanus gibbus (Forsskal, 1775)

Humpback Red Snapper




Lutjanus rivulatus (Cuvier, 1828)

Blubberlip Snapper




Makaira nigricans Lacepede, 1802

Blue Marlin




Monotaxis heterodon (Bleeker, 1854)

Redfin Emperor




Naso hexacanthus (Bleeker, 1855)

Sleek Unicornfish




Naso tonganus (Valenciennes, 1835)

Bulbnose unicornfish




Neotrygon kuhlii (Muller & Henle, 1841)

Blue-spotted Stingray




Parapercis millepunctata (Gunther, 1860)

Black-dotted Sand Perch




Parupeneus indicus (Shaw, 1803)

Indian Goatfish




Parupeneus macronemus (Lacepede, 1801)

Long-barbel Goatfish




Rhizoprionodon acutus (Ruppell, 1837)

Milk Shark




Scoliodon laticaudus Muller & Henle, 1838

Spadenose Shark




Sphyraena jello Cuvier, 1829

Pickhandle Barracuda


NE in India


Spratelloides delicatulus (Bennett, 1832)

Delicate Round Herring




Spratelloides gracilis (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846)

Silver-stripe Round Herring




Taeniurops meyeni (Muller & Henle, 1841)

Round Ribbontail Ray




Thunnus albacares (Bonnaterre, 1788)

Yellowfin Tuna




Thunnus obesus (Lowe, 1839)

Bigeye Tuna




Tylosurus crocodilus (Peron & Lesueur, 1821)

Hound Needlefish




Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758




EN—Endangered | VU—Vulnerable | NT—Near Threatened | LC—Least Concern | DD—Data Deficient | NE—Not Evaluated.



For figures - - click here for full PDF





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