By Ann Kunz
The red steenbras is a large, powerful reef fish with sharp canine-like teeth. This top predator reaches a maximum size of over 50kg in weight and 150cm in length. It grows very slowly reaching over 33 years in age. They reach sexual maturity at about 7 years of age (60cm in length). Juveniles are highly resident but once mature; adults migrate eastwards to the Transkei and southern KZN, where they remain on deep reefs near the shelf edge. Red steenbras spawn between August and November. This iconic reef fish has been heavily targeted by both commercial and recreational line-fishermen for over 100 years. The stock of this species has collapsed and has been reduced to less than 5% of its unexploited levels. The species is endangered. Large no-take marine protected areas such as Tsitsikamma, Amathole and Pondoland are crucial for the future survival of this species.