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White Teatfish (Sea Cucumber) (2018)

Holothuria fuscogilva

  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • James Woodhams (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Mark Grubert (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)

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Summary

White Teatfish is a species of sea cucumber found in northern Australia. It is assessed as sustainable in Qld and in the Torres Strait Bêche-de-mer Fishery (Commonwealth). Stocks in the NT and the Commonwealth Coral Sea Fishery are undefined.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Commonwealth Coral Sea Fishery CSF Undefined Catch, effort
Commonwealth Torres Strait Beche-de-mer Fishery TSFF Sustainable Catch
CSF
Coral Sea Fishery (CTH)
TSFF
Torres Strait Finfish Fishery (CTH)
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Stock Structure

White Teatfish is broadly distributed throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific [Conand 1990]. There are likely to be populations in all Northern-Australian states and territories. However, there is very little information on the distribution, abundance and stock structure of White Teatfish in northern Australia. Current taxonomic records indicate that its distribution extends from Ningaloo in Western Australia to Brisbane, Queensland [ALA 2018]. The known depth range of this species is 0–40 m, but most animals are caught between 15 m and 30 m [Conand et al. 2013].

Here, assessment of stock status is reported at the management unit level—Torres Strait Beche-de-mer Fishery, Coral Sea Fishery (Commonwealth), Trepang Fishery (Northern Territory) and East Coast Sea Cucumber Fishery (Queensland).

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Stock Status

Coral Sea Fishery

There are no reliable indicators of current White Teatfish biomass for the Coral Sea Fishery, nor are there any reliable indicators of the impact of recent and historical catches on the successful recruitment of the stock. There is therefore insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Coral Sea Fishery (Commonwealth) management unit is classified as an undefined stock.

Torres Strait Beche-de-mer Fishery

The Torres Strait White Teatfish stock was last surveyed in 2009 [Skewes et al. 2010]. The results of this survey indicated that White Teatfish density was relatively stable, or had possibly increased between surveys in 1995, 2002 and 2005 [ABARES 2018]. Recent catches of the stock have been below the TAC for all years except one, with the average catch over that period being substantially below the TAC. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted, that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired, and that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Torres Strait Beche-de-mer Fishery (Commonwealth) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

White Teatfish (Sea Cucumber) biology [Purcell et al. 2012]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
White Teatfish (Sea Cucumber) 12+ years, 570 mm TL 320 mm TL, 4 years
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of White Teatfish
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Tables

Fishing methods
Commonwealth
Commercial
Diving
Management methods
Method Commonwealth
Commercial
Limited entry
Quota
Size limit
Spatial closures
Indigenous
Possession limit
Active vessels
Commonwealth
1 in CSF
CSF
Coral Sea Fishery (CTH)
Catch
Commonwealth
Commercial 2.88t in CSF, 125.52kg in TSFF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
CSF
Coral Sea Fishery (CTH)
TSFF
Torres Strait Finfish Fishery (CTH)

Northern Territory – Indigenous (Management methods) The Fisheries Act 1988 (NT), specifies that “…without derogating from any other law in force in the Territory, nothing in a provision of this Act or an instrument of a judicial or administrative character made under it limits the right of Aboriginals who have traditionally used the resources of an area of land or water in a traditional manner from continuing to use those resources in that area in that manner”.

Queensland – Indigenous (Management methods) Under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are entitled to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits. 

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of White Teatfish - note confidential catch not shown