Grenadiers of the World Oceans: Biology, Stock Assessment, and Fisheries

A Brief Taxonomic History of Grenadiers

Tomio Iwamoto


Abstract.—Grenadiers have been known since 1765, but it was not until the Challenger expedition that grenadiers were recognized as a major deep sea fish group. Known species of grenadiers increased dramatically between 1870 and 1900, peaking at the end of that century, and rising again between 1900 and 1920 from collections of the Albatross. After 1920, grenadier taxonomy languished until the1970s, peaking in the 1990s when 74 new species were described. There are now approximately 394 valid grenadier species with many yet to be described. The classification of gadiform fishes has been much debated, but placement of grenadiers within the order Gadiformes is relatively firmly established. Opinions still differ, however, on relationships of the four major grenadier groups, with bathygadids the most contentious group. Long-term fisheries for grenadiers began in the late 1960s, targeting primarily the roundnose grenadier. After a peak catch of about 84,000 tons in 1971, catches of that species have diminished. Exploitation of the roughhead grenadier Macrourus berglax began in the 1980s. Minor fisheries currently exist for Pacific grenadier Coryphaenoides acrolepis off the U.S. West Coast and for two Macrourus species in the southwestern Atlantic.