Spangled Emperor

Latin name: Lutjanus nebulosis

Common names: Blueline Emperor, North West Snapper, Norwest snapper, Spangled Emperor

  • Better Choice

Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Spangled Emperor is a coral reef fish found throughout the tropical Indo-West Pacific, Indian Ocean, Japan and Persian Gulf. They are caught in QLD and WA-managed fisheries.
  • Spangled Emperor are caught in a multi-species hook and line fishery along the Great Barrier Reef Coast.
  • Spangled Emperor populations appear healthy, and though there is no sophisticated fishery assessment; catches are low and populations are monitored in and protected by extensive marine park zones.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park provides best practice protection for habitats and the wider marine environment the fishery operates within.
  • A range of reforms have been introduced to the fishery's management in recent years, many of which represent best international practice in coral reef fishery management.

More information

  • QLD Reef Line Fishery (51t in 2020, 64t in 2019)

Spangled Emperor are coral reef fish that are widespread throughout many tropical oceans, including the tropical Indo-West Pacific, Indian Ocean, Japan and Persian Gulf. They are caught in Australian fisheries in QLD and WA, and are introduced to the GoodFish Guide for the first time in 2022.

Spangled Emperor are caught as a secondary species in the multi-species Reef Line Fishery (which targets coral trout and red emperor) which operates throughout the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

There are no detailed scientific assessments of spangled emperor stocks in place in QLD, and even accurate species reporting of catches is problematic. Despite this, catches are low and populations are being effectively protected in extensive Great Barrier Marine Park zones closed to fishing. Marine park managers conduct an ongoing environmental monitoring program which provides evidence that stripey snapper populations are likely to be stable across the main fishing grounds.

The impacts of line fishing on the marine environment are minimal. In QLD, fishing takes place around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which provides world-class science-based protection and monitoring of habitats and the wider ecosystem in the area of these fisheries. Recently established vessel monitoring systems are ensuring fishers are compliant with marine park regulations.

Serious climate-related environmental impacts in the forms of cyclone damage and coral bleaching events (where coral is under stress due to warm ocean waters) have occurred on the Great Barrier Reef in recent years. It is welcome that fishery and environmental managers are monitoring and managing these factors, with new measures designed to maintain species caught in the wider fishery at abundant and environmentally resilient population sizes.

It is likely the line fisheries in QLD pose minimal risk to most other species. Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions, as well as other fishery impacts, such as the type and volume of discarded catch. Unfortunately the QLD Government closed the observer program for all QLD managed fisheries in 2012. In the intervening six years, there has been no independent scrutiny of the impact of the fishery on other species.

Despite this issue, a range of other reforms have been implemented across the fishery since the last GoodFish assessment, many of which represent international best practice and have contributed significantly to the ‘better choice’ ranking of the fishery in this assessment.