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Orange Roughy (2018)

Hoplostethus atlanticus

  • Lee Georgeson (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Fay Helidoniotis (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)

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Summary

Orange Roughy are commercially fished in southern Australian waters. The species is assessed as six biological stocks. Two stocks are sustainable, one is undefined and three are depleted. 

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Commonwealth Cascade Plateau SESSF (CTS) Sustainable Biomass, current and historical fishing pressure
Commonwealth Eastern Zone SESSF (CTS) Sustainable Biomass, current and historical fishing pressure
Commonwealth Southern Zone SESSF (CTS) Depleted Biomass, current and historical fishing pressure
Commonwealth Western Zone SESSF (CTS) Depleted Biomass, current and historical fishing pressure
Commonwealth Great Australian Bight SESSF (GABTS) Undefined Catch history
Commonwealth South Tasman Rise STRTF Depleted Catch history, catch rates
SESSF (CTS)
Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (CTH)
SESSF (GABTS)
Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector) (CTH)
STRTF
South Tasman Rise Trawl Fishery (CTH)
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Stock Structure

Orange Roughy is assumed to consist of multiple regional stocks. The species is managed and assessed as a number of discrete regional management units and/or biological stocks, six of which are presented here.

Orange Roughy within the Australian Fishing Zone form a single genetic stock [Gonçalves da Silva et al. 2012]; however, separate demographic units exist despite genetic similarity [Morison et al. 2012]. Orange Roughy on the Cascade Plateau has distinct morphometrics, parasite populations, size and age composition, and spawning time, and is considered to be a separate management unit within the Southern Remote Zone [AFMA 2013]. The Orange Roughy stock in the South Tasman Rise is considered to be a discrete population. Research indicates that there is more genetic structure in global Orange Roughy populations than has previously been detected, although Australian and New Zealand stocks could not be differentiated [Varela et al. 2013].

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Eastern Zone, Southern Zone, Western Zone and Great Australian Bight; and at the biological stock level—Cascade Plateau and South Tasman Rise.

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Stock Status

Cascade Plateau

The most recent full assessment for Orange Roughy on the Cascade Plateau estimated female spawning biomass to be 72–73 per cent of the unfished biomass and produced a long-term recommended biological catch of 315 tonnes (t) [Wayte and Bax 2007]. An update to this assessment in 2009 estimated female spawning biomass would be 64 per cent of the unfished biomass in 2011 [Morison et al. 2012]. The stock is unlikely to be depleted and recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

Noting low fishing effort, catches and a lack of new data, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority implemented a 500 t total allowable catch (TAC ), which has been rolled over at this level since 2009. These TACs have been largely uncaught. This stock was scheduled for an assessment in 2014, but, because there were no new catch data, the assessment was postponed. There has been no fishing effort since 2015–16 (when only 2 t was reported as landed), indicating 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 Cascade Plateau biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Eastern Zone

The most recent stock assessment in 2014 predicted female spawning biomass in 2015 to be 26 per cent, with an estimated unfished female spawning biomass of 38 727 t [Upston et al. 2014]. The stock structure assumption used in the Eastern Zone stock assessment model is based on the hypothesis that a proportion of Southern Zone Orange Roughy migrate to the main spawning grounds in the Eastern Zone (St Helens Hill or St Patricks Head) to spawn in winter [Upston et al. 2014].

The stock assessment model assumes zero deviation from the stock recruitment relationship from 1980 onwards. This results in uncertainty around the impact of historical overfishing on the stock because recruits from the peak period of fishing are only now entering the fishery. Adding to this uncertainty, there is some evidence for compensatory decreases in length at maturity and increases in fecundity for overfished Orange Roughy stocks [Kloser et al. 2015, Pitman et al. 2013]. While the stock assessment indicates a high probability that the stock is above the limit reference point of 20 per cent of unfished biomass, these uncertainties mean that the time the stock will take to rebuild to the target reference point is highly uncertain. Nonetheless, the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

The TAC was set at 500 t for the 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18 fishing seasons [Upston and Punt 2015]. The TAC was derived from assessment results in accordance with the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy to limit fishing pressure to a level that is likely to allow a sustained increase in spawning biomass. Because the stock assessment was for the Eastern Zone stock plus the Pedra Branca seamount (in the Southern Zone), it was necessary to allocate the TAC between the Eastern and Southern Zone management units. This allocation was based on historical effort data and stock assessment allocations, resulting in a seven per cent allocation to the Southern (Pedra Branca) zone and a 93 per cent allocation to the Eastern Zone. This resulted in an Eastern Zone TAC of 465 t for the 2017–18 fishing season, of which 297 t was landed.

A recent assessment update that includes more recent data [Haddon 2017], not yet accepted by the South East Resource Assessment Group, supports the earlier view that the stock is above the limit reference point.

Catch of Orange Roughy in the Eastern Zone was constrained to within the 2017–18 TAC. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

Based on the evidence provided above, the Eastern Zone management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Great Australian Bight

No quantitative stock assessment has been conducted for Orange Roughy in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (Commonwealth) (SESSF [GABTS]) because the available data are sporadic and spatially scattered [Knuckey et al. 2010]. The most recent review of data for Orange Roughy in this fishery was completed in 2004 [Wayte 2004].

Early catches were reported as coming from temporary feeding aggregations associated with cold-water upwelling off Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln. Catches from these aggregations ranged from 2500–3784 t [Newton 1989]. Aggregations have not been found in the same locations since then [Wayte 2004]. A spawning aggregation was discovered in 1990 on a ridge 30 nautical miles from the Port Lincoln grounds [Newton and Turner 1990]. This aggregation, which has not been seen since, initially supported high trawl catches of around 40 t per shot, typical of lightly exploited Orange Roughy fisheries, but only yielded a total catch of 800 t before catch rates declined.

Orange Roughy was listed as conservation dependent under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in 2006. A deepwater management strategy was implemented to address the requirements of the Orange Roughy Conservation Programme [AFMA 2006], under which commercial fishing was closed in several Orange Roughy zones in the Great Australian Bight, particularly the areas deeper than 700 m. More than 96 per cent of the historical catch (1988–2005) and more than 99 per cent of the more recent catch (2001–05) was taken in these closed zones. Until sustainable harvest levels can be determined, fishing will be allowed in these zones only under a research programme that has been approved by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. The allocated research quota for the 2017–18 season was 200 t; none was used. The Orange Roughy incidental catch allowance remained at 50 t for the 2017–18 fishing season; 18 t was landed. Existing management arrangements in the SESSF (GABTS) fishery have been maintained under the updated Orange Roughy Rebuilding Strategy [AFMA 2014].

As there have been no recent surveys and there is no representative catch-trend data to determine the abundance of Orange Roughy in the Great Australian Bight, the stock biomass is uncertain. There is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Great Australian Bight (Commonwealth) management unit is classified as an undefined stock.

South Tasman Rise

The only assessment of the Orange Roughy stock within the South Tasman Rise Trawl Fishery used catches and catch rates in a standardised catch per tow analysis, as well as examining acoustic data collected during the winter spawning seasons of 1998–2002 [Wayte et al. 2003]. Standardised catch per tow analysis indicated that catch rates declined by 92 per cent between 1997–98 and 2002–03 [Wayte et al. 2003].

Anecdotal information suggests that illegal catches in 1999 may have been substantially higher than documented. These reductions in catch and catch rate, when the cumulative total reported catch was 11 341 t, indicate that the initial stock biomass was not large and had been considerably reduced by 2002–03 [Wayte et al. 2003].

No recovery was evident after this, and estimated relative abundance in 2002–03 was only eight per cent of abundance in 1997–98 [Wayte et al. 2003]. No significant acoustic marks, indicative of spawning aggregations, were apparent during industry surveys in 2000, 2001 or 2002. The assessment concluded that there was little doubt that the stock size, or the availability of fish to the fishery, had decreased dramatically after the first couple of years of the fishery and had shown no signs of recovery. The fishery has not been surveyed since 2002 and has been closed since 2007–08. The biomass of this stock is likely to be depleted and recruitment is likely to be impaired.

The above evidence indicates that the absence of fishing should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state. However, detection of increases in biomass has not been attempted.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Tasman Rise biological stock is classified as a depleted stock.

Southern Zone

The assessment for the Southern Zone has not been updated since 2000. Standardised catch per shot abundance indices, using only data from vessels that had regularly fished this zone, estimated the abundance in 2001 to be about seven per cent of unfished levels (spawning biomass of 0.07SB0) [Wayte 2002]. Because there has been no update to the assessment of the Southern Zone Stock, the South East Resource Assessment Group continues to advise a recommended biological catch of zero. The stock is considered to be recruitment impaired.

There is a current incidental catch allowance of 35 t and with the allocation from the Eastern Zone stock of 31 t, the TAC was 66 t for the 2017–18 fishing season. Of this, 53 t was caught in 2017–18. The above evidence indicates that management measures are currently constraining fishing mortality to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state. However, detection of increases in biomass has not been attempted.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, and in the absence of any evidence to suggest that the stock has rebuilt to above the limit reference point, the Southern Zone (Commonwealth) management unit is classified as a depleted stock.

Western Zone

The Western Zone was most recently assessed in 2002. This assessment estimated that there was a greater than 90 per cent probability that the 2004 biomass was less than 30 per cent of the 1985 biomass [Wayte and Bax 2002]. No evidence has been found of spawning aggregations in this region. The biomass of this stock is likely to be depleted and recruitment is likely to be impaired.

Because there has been no update to the assessment of the Western Zone stock, the South East Resource Assessment Group continues to advise a recommended biological catch of zero. There is a current incidental catch allowance of 60 t and catches in the Western Zone have been low (22.5 t in 2017–18). The above evidence indicates that management measures are currently constraining fishing mortality to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, and in the absence of any evidence to suggest that the stock has rebuilt to above the limit reference point, the Western Zone (Commonwealth) management unit is classified as a depleted stock.

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Biology

Orange Roughy biology [Fenton et al. 1991, Froese and Pauly 2016, Kloser et al. 2015, Thomsen 1998]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Orange Roughy 149 years, 750 mm TL  ~27–32 years, ~350–370 mm TL 
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Orange Roughy
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Tables

Fishing methods
Commonwealth
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Management methods
Method Commonwealth
Commercial
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Total allowable catch
Active vessels
Commonwealth
38 in SESSF (CTS), 3 in SESSF (GABTS), 0 in STRTF
SESSF (CTS)
Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (CTH)
SESSF (GABTS)
Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector) (CTH)
STRTF
South Tasman Rise Trawl Fishery (CTH)
Catch
Commonwealth
Commercial 372.67t in SESSF (CTS)
SESSF (CTS)
Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (CTH)

Commonwealth – Recreational The Australian Government does not manage recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.

Commonwealth – Indigenous The Australian Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Orange Roughy - note confidential catch not shown

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References

  1. AFMA 2006, Orange Roughy Conservation Programme, AFMA, Canberra.
  2. AFMA 2014, Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) Rebuilding Strategy 2014, AFMA, Canberra.
  3. Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2013, Species summaries for the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery: for stock assessments completed in 2013 in preparation for the 2014–15 fishing season, AFMA, Canberra.
  4. Fenton, GE, Short, SA and Ritz, DA 1991, Age determination of orange roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus (Pisces: Trachichthyidae) using 210 Pb/226Ra disequilibria, Marine Biology, vol. 109, pp. 197–202.
  5. Froese, R and Pauly. D (Eds) 2016. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (06/2016).
  6. Gonçalves da Silva, A, Appleyard, S and Upston, J 2012, ‘Establishing the evolutionary compatibility of potential sources of colonizers for overfished stocks: a population genomics approach’, Molecular Ecology, 24(3): 564–579.
  7. Haddon, M 2017, DRAFT Orange Roughy East (Hoplostethus atlanticus) stock assessment using data to 2016, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, for discussion by SERAG, November 2017.
  8. Kloser, R, Sutton, C, Krusic-Golub, K and Ryan, T 2015, Indicators of recovery for orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) in eastern Australian waters fished from 1987, Fisheries Research, 167: 2225–235.
  9. Knuckey, IA, Hudson, R and Nemec, J 2010, Monitoring orange roughy in the Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery 2008, report to AFMA, Canberra.
  10. Morison, AK, Knuckey, IA, Simpfendorfer, CA and Buckworth, RC (eds) 2012, 2011 stock assessment summaries for the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, report for AFMA, Canberra.
  11. Newton, G 1989, The orange roughy fishery of the Great Australian Bight, Australian Society for Fish Biology conference, 1989.
  12. Newton, G and Turner, D 1990, Spawning roughy in the GAB - a new find, Australian Fisheries, October 1990.
  13. Pitman, L, Haddy, J and Kloser, R 2013, Fishing and fecundity: The impact of exploitation on the reproductive potential of deep-water fish, orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus), Fisheries Research, 147: 312–319.
  14. Thomsen, B 1998, Faroese quest of orange roughy in the North Atlantic, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Copenhagen (Denmark), theme session on deepwater fish and fisheries, 16–19 September 1998, ICES, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  15. Upston, J and Punt, A 2015, Orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) Eastern Zone stock assessment incorporating catch data up to 2014: supplement,—constant catch scenarios, AFMA and CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Hobart.
  16. Upston, J, Punt, AE, Wayte, S, Ryan, T, Day, J and Sporcic, M 2014, Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) Eastern Zone stock assessment incorporating data up to 2014, produced by CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart for AFMA, Canberra.
  17. Varela, AI, Ritchie, PA and Smith, PJ 2013, Global genetic population structure in the commercially exploited deep-sea teleost orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) based on microsatellite DNA analyses, Fisheries Research, 140:83–90.
  18. Wayte, S 2002, Southern Zone Orange Roughy Catch Analysis (draft), CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.
  19. Wayte, S and Bax, N 2002, Western Zone Orange Roughy Stock Assessment (draft), CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.
  20. Wayte, SE 2004, Analysis of orange roughy catch data from the Great Australian Bight, report to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  21. Wayte, SE and Bax, N 2007, Stock assessment of the Cascade Plateau orange roughy 2006, CSIRO, Hobart.
  22. Wayte, SE, Bax, N, Clark, M and Tilzey, R 2003, ‘Analysis of orange roughy catches on the South Tasman Rise 1997-2002’, paper for the Orange Roughy Assessment Group, CSIRO, Hobart.

Archived reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.