News » SAIAB goatfish listed as an endangered species – IUCN Red List

SAIAB goatfish listed as an endangered species – IUCN Red List

The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN Red List) held a workshop in Durban, South Africa from 12-16 August 2019, with participants from various institutions, including the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, to discuss the extinction risk of species from the Western Indian Ocean.

The assessment workshop conducted on 13 August 2019 determined that Upeneus saiab (Family Mullidae), commonly known as the SAIAB goatfish, endemic off Angoche, northern Mozambique in the Western Indian Ocean (Uiblein and Lisher 2013, Uiblein and White 2015), is considered an endangered species. The SAIAB goatfish was among 29 Mullidae species assessed during the workshop. The List can be accessed at

The SAIAB goatfish is a demersal species that inhabits sandy beaches and occupy nearshore sandy bottoms to live and feed. The species is known from only one location off Angoche, where the major threat identified is overfishing. According to the assessment, the SAIAB goatfish is taken in nearshore fisheries where the level of exploitation is very high, but the impact on this species is not currently quantified. Anecdotal evidence from monitoring catches by these fisheries indicates that the catch has declined over time as a result of overfishing as defined by the Red List methodology. One of the assessors and expert from the National Institute of Fisheries Research (IIP) of Mozambique, Claque Maunde, explained that a secondary threat from mining developments in Sangage is also considered to be a source of pollution that impacts on the nearshore habitats to which this species appears to be restricted. According to the IUCN Assessment Workshop, the species is continuing to decline in the area and therefore is listed as Endangered B1ab (iii,v).

Coming out of this workshop is a strong recommendation that fisheries management and data collection are developed and that dedicated biological studies on this species and research on water quality in the area be conducted urgently. These actions are important to fully understand the fish species composition and abundance within the area around Angoche, which still has a relatively high biodiversity and be able to identify possible conservation measures to protect this species.


Uiblein, F., Everett, B., Maunde, C., Lisher, M., Matiku, P. & Sithole, Y. 2020. Upeneus saiab. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T159145328A159145590. Downloaded on 13 July 2020.

Uiblein and Lisher 2013, Uiblein and White 2015.

IUCN Red List: