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Barramundi (2018)

Lates calcarifer

  • Thor Saunders (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Olivia Whybird (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Fabian Trinnie (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Stephen Newman (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Summary

Of the eight Barramundi stocks across WA, the NT and QLD targeted by commercial fishers, seven are sustainable. Stocks in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, QLD, are depleting.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Northern Territory Barramundi Fishery BF, ACL Sustainable Catch, CPUE, length and age, low harvest rate
ACL
Aboriginal Coastal License (NT)
BF
Barramundi Fishery (NT)
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Stock Structure

Separate biological stocks of Barramundi exist at the scale of individual catchments across northern Australia [Keenan 1994, Keenan 2000]. However, the difficulty in obtaining relevant biological and catch-and-effort information to assess each individual biological stock has meant that Barramundi have been assessed as two separate management units (Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery, Western Australia; and Barramundi Fishery, Northern Territory) and seven genetic biological stocks (Queensland: Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Gulf of Carpentaria, Princess Charlotte Bay, North-East Coast, Mackay, Central East Coast and South-East Coast). The high levels of stocking in catchments on the east coast of Queensland is unlikely to compromise this stock structure as parents from the same genetic stock are used to produce fingerlings. The assessments of the management units are based on the biological stocks that receive the highest harvest rates and whose status is assumed to be representative of the highest level of exploitation that occurs on any biological stock within each unit.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery (Western Australia), Barramundi Fishery (Northern Territory); and the biological stock level—Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Gulf of Carpentaria, Princess Charlotte Bay, North-East Coast, Mackay, Central East Coast and South-East Coast (Queensland).

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Stock Status

Barramundi Fishery

The commercial catch and nominal CPUE have both declined substantially in recent years, primarily due to the below average wet seasons since 2013 in the Northern Territory [DPIR 2018]. However, CPUE levels are still 22 per cent above the long-term average (1983–2012) and CPUE increased in 2016 [DPIR 2018]. Monitored stocks have a healthy length and age distribution with little sign of reduction in the proportion of older age classes, despite abundance surveys showing low levels of recruitment during recent wet seasons [DPIR 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

Recaptures from tagging programs indicate that the annual harvest rate from all sectors combined is consistently below five per cent and this level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stocks to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Barramundi Fishery (Northern Territory) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock

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Biology

Barramundi biology [Davis 1982]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Barramundi 35 years, 1500 mm TL Maturity (50 per cent) Northern Territory: Males 2–5 years, 730 mm TL Females 5–7 years, 910 mm TL Queensland: Males 2–5 years, 640 mm TL Females 5–7 years, 820 mm TL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Barramundi
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Tables

Fishing methods
Northern Territory
Commercial
Gillnet
Beach Seine
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Recreational
Spearfishing
Handline
Management methods
Method Northern Territory
Charter
Limited entry
Passenger restrictions
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Seasonal closures
Size limit
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Recreational
Gear restrictions
Possession limit
Seasonal closures
Size limit
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Active vessels
Northern Territory
12 in ACL, 14 in BF
ACL
Aboriginal Coastal License (NT)
BF
Barramundi Fishery (NT)
Catch
Northern Territory
Commercial 61.40kg in ACL, 392.65t in BF
Indigenous 110 t (in 2000)
Recreational 155 t (in 2010)
ACL
Aboriginal Coastal License (NT)
BF
Barramundi Fishery (NT)

Western Australia – Recreational (catch) Boat-based recreational catch between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016 from Ryan et al. [2017]. Please note that catches of Barramundi are underestimates as shore-based and boat-based fishers that only operated in freshwater were out of scope of the survey.

Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) A Recreational Fishing from Boat License is required for the use of a powered boat to fish or to transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location.

Western Australia – Indigenous (management methods) Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by Indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

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”.

Northern Territory – Charter (management methods) In the Northern Territory, charter operators are regulated through the same management methods as the recreational sector, but are subject to additional limits on license and passenger numbers.

Queensland – Commercial (catch) Princess Charlotte Bay catch is not reportable as fewer than five boats operated in the fishery in 2017.

Queensland – Recreational (catch) Survey of Queensland residents only from August 2013–October 14 [Webley et al. 2015].

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers are able to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and bag limits and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations can be obtained through permits.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Barramundi - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Balston, J 2009, An analysis of the impacts of long-term climate variability on the commercial Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) fishery of north-east Queensland, Australia, Fisheries Research, 99: 83–89.
  2. Campbell, A, Robins, J and O’Neil, M 2017, Assessment of the barramundi (Lates calcarifer) fishery in the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, Australia. The State of Queensland.
  3. Davis, TLO 1982, Maturity and sexuality in Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in the Northern Territory and south-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 33: 529–545.
  4. Davis, TLO 1984, Estimation of fecundity in Barramundi,"Lates Calcarifer", using an automatic counter. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 35(1): 111–118.
  5. Davis, TLO 1987, Biology of Lates calcarifer in Northern Austalia, in JW Copland and DL Grey, Management of wild and cultured sea bass/barramundi (Lates calcarifer): Proceedings of an international workshop held at Darwin, NT Australia, 24–30 September 1986, ACIAR Proceedings No. 20, pp 22–29.
  6. De Lestang, P, Griffin, RK and Allsop QA 2004, Assessment of the post-release survival and stress physiology of barramundi (Lates calcarifer), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2002/039, Northern Territory Government Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, Darwin.
  7. Garrett, RN and Russell, DJ 1982, Premanagement investigations into the barramundi Lates calcarifer (Bloch) in northeast Queensland water: A report to the Fishing Industry Research Committee Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Final report to Commonwealth FIRC, Canberra.
  8. Halliday, IA, Ley, JA, Tobin, A, Garrett, R, Gribble, NA and Mayer, DG 2001, The effects of net fishing: Addressing biodiversity and bycatch issues in Queensland inshore waters, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 97/206, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane.
  9. Halliday, IA, Saunders, T, Sellin, M, Allsop, Q, Robins, JB, McLennan, M and Kurnoth, P 2012, Flow impacts on estuarine finfish fisheries of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2007/002, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
  10. Healy, T 1992, Gulf of Carpentaria fishery review background paper no. 1 WFMA, Brisbane.
  11. Keenan, CP 1994, Recent evolution of population structure in Australian Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch): An example of isolation by distance in one dimension, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 45: 1123–1148.
  12. Keenan, CP 2000, Should we allow human-induced migration of the Indo West Pacific fish, Barramundi Lates calcarifer (Bloch) within Australia, Aquaculture Research, 31: 121–131.
  13. Ley JA and Halliday I 2004, A Key Role for Marine Protected Areas in Sustaining a Regional Fishery for Barramundi Lates calcarifer in Mangrove-Dominated Estuaries? Evidence from Northern Australia. pp. 225–236. Brooke Shipley J Aquatic protected areas as fisheries management tools. American Fisheries Society Symposium vol. 42. American Fisheries Society
  14. Newman, SJ, Brown, JI, Fairclough, DV, Wise, BS, Bellchambers, LM, Molony, BW, Lenanton, RCJ, Jackson, G, Smith, KA, Gaughan, DJ, Fletcher, WJ, McAuley, RB and Wakefield, CB 2018, A risk assessment and prioritisation approach to the selection of indicator species for the assessment of multi-species, multi-gear, multi-sector fishery resources. Marine Policy 88: 11–22.
  15. Newman, SJ, Mitsopoulos, G, Skepper, C and Smith, E 2018, North Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Resource Status Report 2017. pp. 123–126. In: Gaughan, D.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.). Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2016/17: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 237p.
  16. Northern Territory Government Department of Primary Industry and Resources 2018, Status of key Northern Territory fish stocks report 2014, Fishery Report No. 119, NT DPIF, Darwin.
  17. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  18. Queensland Department of Environment and Science 2018, QPWS permit database, Department of Environment and Science, Cairns.
  19. Russell, DJ and Garrett, RN 1985, Early life history of Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in north-eastern Queensland Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 36: 191–201
  20. Russell, DJ and Hales, P 1993, A survey of the Princess Charlotte Bay recreational barramundi fishery, Northern Fisheries Centre, Department of Primary Industries, Cairns.
  21. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM and Wise, BS 2017, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries research Report No. 287. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth. 
  22. Staunton-Smith, J, Robins, JB, Mayer, DG, Sellin, MJ and Halliday, IA 2004, Does the quantity and timing of fresh water flowing into a dry tropical estuary affect year-class strength of barramundi (Lates calcarifer)? Marine and Freshwater Research, 55(8): 787–797.
  23. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide recreational fishing survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  24. Welch, D, Gribble, N,and Garrett, R 2002, Assessment of the Barramundi fishery in Queensland–2002. Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Archived reports

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