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Southern Garfish (2018)

Hyporhamphus melanochir

  • Mike Steer (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Corey Green (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Kim Smith (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Summary

Southern Garfish has a wide distribution around Australia. There are ten stocks across WA, SA, TAS and VIC. Five are sustainable, two depleting, two depleted and one recovering.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia West Coast CSFNMF, SCEMF, SWCBNF, WL (SC) Depleted Catch, effort, CPUE, age composition, fishing mortality rate, SPR
Western Australia Western Australia South Coast SCEMF, WL (SC) Depleting Catch, effort, CPUE trends, estimated biomass depletion
CSFNMF
Cockburn Sound (Fish Net) Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
SWCBNF
South West Coast Beach Net Fishery (Order) (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
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Stock Structure

Southern Garfish has a wide distribution in Australia, extending from Lancelin in Western Australia, along the southern coast of mainland Australia and up the east coast to Eden in southern New South Wales, as well as the surrounding waters of Tasmania [Gomon et al. 2008].

There has been no research into the stock structure of Western Australian populations of Southern Garfish. However, given the limited dispersal typically displayed by Southern Garfish, and the large spatial separation between the west and south coasts of Western Australia, it is highly likely that the west and south coast support separate biological stocks of this species [Steer et al. 2009, Ye et al. 2002].

In Victoria, there has been no research into the stock structure for populations of Southern Garfish and they are assumed to constitute a single jurisdictional stock.

In Tasmania, differences in size and age composition between the north coast and the east coast indicate that there may be multiple biological stocks; however, no firm evidence exists at present, and current stock assessments assume a single state-wide biological stock [Moore et al. 2018].

A multidisciplinary otolith-based study (otolith chemistry and morphometrics) identified at least five biological stocks in South Australia: West Coast, Northern Spencer Gulf, Southern Spencer Gulf, Northern Gulf St. Vincent and Southern Gulf St. Vincent [Steer et al. 2009]. Given the level of spatial separation of Southern Garfish observed between the gulfs, it was assumed that Southern Garfish from the south east also comprised a separate biological stock.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Western Australia West Coast and Western Australia South Coast; South Australia West Coast (Western Australia); Southern Spencer Gulf, Northern Spencer Gulf, Southern Gulf St. Vincent, Northern Gulf St. Vincent and South East (South Australia); Tasmania; and at the jurisdictional level—Victoria.

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Stock Status

Western Australia South Coast

In the past five years (2013–17), 65 per cent of South Coast commercial landings of Southern Garfish were from a single estuary, Wilson Inlet. The current assessment of the Wilson Inlet stock is based on commercial catch and catch rate trends. Southern Garfish taken elsewhere on the South Coast are not assessed.

The commercial catch in Wilson inlet followed an increasing trend from 1990 until 2013, when it peaked at 9.9 tonnes (t). The catch has since declined and was 2.4 t in 2017, below the 20 year (1997–2016) average of 4.2 t. Stock reduction modelling (catch-MSY , Martell and Froese 2013) of annual catches reported since the 1950s suggests that biomass is declining and is currently around 30 per cent of the unfished level, although with wide confidence intervals. With the exception of 2017, most catches over the past decade have been above the estimated MSY.

The standardised commercial catch rate in 2017 (6 kg/gear day) was slightly above 50 per cent of the average (11 kg/day) during the period 2000–16). However, catch rates may not be a reliable index of abundance for this stock due to a lack of precise estimates of targeted commercial effort for Southern Garfish.

This evidence suggests that the biomass has declined but the stock is not yet considered to be depleted. The stock is not considered to be recruitment impaired. If the catch remains around the 2017 level in future, the stock is unlikely to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of this evidence, the Western Australia South Coast biological stock is classified as a depleting stock.

Western Australia West Coast

Until 2017, Cockburn Sound, which is within the Perth metropolitan zone, was the main fishery for Southern Garfish in the West Coast Bioregion (WCB). About 80 per cent of commercial landings and an estimated 50 per cent of recreational landings of this species in the WCB were taken in Cockburn Sound [Smith et al. 2017]. In 2017, a total fishing closure for Southern Garfish was implemented in the Perth metropolitan zone. The current assessment of the Cockburn Sound stock is based on commercial and recreational catch rate trends up to 2017, age structure from historic (1998–99) and recent (2010–11) years, fishing mortality (from catch curves) and spawning potential ratio (SPR, from per recruit analyses).

Catch rates in Cockburn Sound followed a declining trend after the late 1990s, which accelerated after 2011 after an unprecedented marine heatwave event along the west coast [Pearce et al. 2011]. The stock appears to have suffered poor recruitment during the heatwave. At this time, the age structure was heavily truncated, with older fish absent from the population, and SPR estimates suggested that the stock biomass was around 20 per cent of the unfished level [Smith et al. 2017]. A further decline in catch and catch rates after that time suggested a further decline in stock level [Smith et al. 2018].

The above evidence indicates that the stock is likely to be recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Western Australia West Coast biological stock is classified as a depleted stock.

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Biology

Southern Garfish biology [Smith et al. 2017, Ye et al. 2002]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Southern Garfish South Australia: 10 years, 380 mm TL Tasmania: 9.5 years, 460 mm TL. Western Australia: 12 years, 430 mm TL Western Australia: 12 months, 230 mm TL South Australia: 18 months, 190 mm TL Victoria: 19 months, 210 mm TL Tasmania: 22 months, 200 mm TL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Garfish
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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Gillnet
Beach Seine
Haul Seine
Unspecified
Recreational
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Recreational
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Licence (boat-based sector)
Active vessels
Western Australia
<3 in CSFNMF, 14 in SCEMF, 3 in SWCBNF, <3 in WL (NC || GC || WC), 8 in WL (SC)
CSFNMF
Cockburn Sound (Fish Net) Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
SWCBNF
South West Coast Beach Net Fishery (Order) (WA)
WL (NC || GC || WC)
Open Access in the North Coast, Gascoyne Coast and West Coast Bioregions (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 835.00kg in CSFNMF, SWCBNF, 4.62t in SCEMF, WL (SC)
Recreational <1 t in 2015/16 (boat-based only)
CSFNMF
Cockburn Sound (Fish Net) Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
SWCBNF
South West Coast Beach Net Fishery (Order) (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)

Victoria – Indigenous (management methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no Indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no Indigenous catch recorded.

South Australia – Commercial (catch) Data for the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (South Australia) and the Southern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (South Australia) have been combined because of confidentiality requirements.

Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine. e Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous people engaged in fishing activities in marine waters are exempt from holding recreational fishing licences, but must comply with all other fisheries rules as if they were licensed. Additionally, recreational bag and possession limits also apply. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, aborigines must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a Unique Identifying Code (UIC) to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC

Western Australia – Recreational (catch) Current shore-based recreational catch and effort in Western Australia is unknown. State-wide surveys of boat-based fishing are conducted regularly, most recently in 2015/16 [Ryan et al. 2017].

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Southern Garfish - note confidential catch not shown

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References

  1.  Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and indigenous fishing survey, Fisheries Research Development Corporation project 99/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
  2. Conron S, Green C, Hamer, P, Giri K, and Hall K 2016, Corner Inlet- Nooramunga Fishery Assessment 2016. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 11.
  3. Giri K and Hall K, 2015 South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey. Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  4. Gomon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R 2008, Fishes of Australia’s southern coast, New Holland Publishers, Australia.
  5. Martell, S and Froese, R 2013, A simple method for estimating MSY from catch and resilience. Fish and Fisheries, 14: 504–514.
  6. Moore, BM, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2016, Tasmanian Scalefish Fshery Assessment 2016/17, The Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Tasmania.
  7. Pearce, A, Lenenton, R, Jackson, G, Moore, J, Feng, M and Gaughan, D 2011, The “Marine Heat Wave” off Western Australia during the Summer of 2010/11, Fisheries Research Report 222, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  8. Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017 Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1
  9. Ryan KL, Hall NG, Lai EK, Smallwood CB, Taylor SM and Wise BS 2017. Statewide survey of boatbased recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries Research Report No. 287, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. 205pp.
  10. Smith K, Dowling C, Mountford S, Hesp A, Howard A and Brown J. 2017, Status of southern garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. Research Report No. 271. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.Smith K, Holtz M, Bunbury E, O'Malley J and Yerman M. 2018, West Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Finfish Resource Status Report 2017. In: Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2016/17: State of the Fisheries. eds. Gaughan DJ and Santoro K. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. pp 50–56.
  11. Smith K, Holtz M, Bunbury E, O'Malley J and Yerman M 2018, West Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Finfish Resource Status Report 2017. In: Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2016/17: State of the Fisheries. eds. Gaughan DJ and Santoro K. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. pp 50–56.
  12. Steer MA, Fowler AJ, McGarvey R, Feenstra J, Westlake EL, Matthews D, Drew M, Rogers PJ and Earl J 2018, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2016. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-1. SARDI Research Report Series No. 974. Pp 250. 
  13. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ and Gillanders, BM 2009, Spatial management of Garfish in South Australia – stock structure and adult movement, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2007/029, Canberra.
  14. Ye, Q, Jones, GK, McGlennon, D, Ayvazian, S and Coutin, P 2002, Fisheries Biology and Habitat Ecology of Southern Sea Garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) in Southern Australian Waters, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 1997/133, Canberra.Conron S, Green C, Hamer, P, Giri K and Hall K 2016, Corner Inlet- Nooramunga Fishery Assessment 2016. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 11.

Archived reports

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