Significance to humans

Gobioid fishes do not support important commercial fisheries, but subsistence fisheries exist for some species in the tropical Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. The sinarapan is a delicacy around the Philippine lakes where it is found, and fry of sicy-diine gobies are a delicacy in parts of the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific, where they may be made into a paste. According to FAO statistics, the 2000 global capture for all gobioid fishes was 51,199 tons (52,021 tonnes); 63% of this was caught in the northwest Pacific by countries of the Russian Federation, and 15% was caught in the western Central Pacific by the Philippines. Aquaculture produced 376 tons (382 tonnes) of gobioid fishes in 2000, with a value of $3.38 million. Many gobioid species probably represent important food resources to larger fish species that are commercially fished.

Gobioid fishes form a small part of the ornamental fish trade which, by 1992, had a global retail trade value of $3,000 million. In Hong Kong, a major distributor of ornamental fishes, gobies represented only about 1% of the total number of fishes observed in a market survey in 1996 and 1997. Gobies are an important complement of the biological diversity of coral reefs, which are popular sites for tourism. Therefore, these reef-dwelling gobies represent an indirect source of sustainable income to tropical countries that are using their reefs as attractions for properly managed ecotourism.

Introduced species of gobies include the round goby (Neo-gobius melanostomus) in the Great Lakes region of North America; the Japanese goby (Tridentiger trigonocephalus), introduced to North American and Australian coastal waters; and the Indo-Pacific Butis koilomatodon, introduced into coastal waters of Nigeria, Panama, and Brazil. Translocated Glossogobius giuris and Hypseleotris agilis appear to have played a role in the extirpation of the endemic cyprinid species flock of Lake Lanao in the Philippines. Native fish species may suffer from competition with these alien species, and the economic cost of monitoring the spread of exotics, and attempting to control them, may be significant.

Dwarf Pygmy Goby

1. Violet goby {Gobioides broussoneti); 2. Large-scale spinycheek sleeper {Eleotris amblyopsis); S. O'opo alamo'o {Lentipes concolor); 4. Neon goby {Gobiosoma oceanops); 5. Fire goby {Nemateleotris magnifica); 6. Dwarf pygmy goby {Pandaka pygmaea); 7. Atlantic mudskipper {Perioph-thalmus barbarus). {Illustration by Amanda Humphrey)

Eleotris Amblyopsis

1. Whip coral goby (Bryaninops yongei); 2. Gorgeous prawn-goby (Amblyeleotris wheeleri); 3. Arno goby (Padogobius nigricans); 4. Samoan sand dart (Kraemeria samoensis); 5. Blind cave gudgeon (Milyeringa Veritas); 6. Marble sleeper (Oxyeleotris marmorata); 7. Loach goby (Rhyacichthys aspro). (Illustration by Amanda Humphrey)

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