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Pearl Perch (2018)

Glaucosoma scapulare

  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • John Stewart (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
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Summary

Pearl Perch is a demersal fish endemic to the central NSW and QLD coast of Australia. Fishing levels have exceeded sustainable levels and the stock status is depleted.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Queensland, New South Wales Eastern Australia RRFFF, OTF, OTLF Depleted Biomass, Standardised Catch Rate, Fishery-Dependent Length and Age Frequency, Estimates of Total Mortality Rate, Catch and Effort
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (NSW)
RRFFF
Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
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Stock Structure

The Pearl Perch (Glaucosoma scapulare) is a relatively common demersal fish endemic to the central east coast of Australia. Pearl Perch generally form small schools around submerged reefs, pinnacles and rough rocky seabed in moderately deep water (up to 150 m) but may also move into shallow coastal waters throughout the day [McKay 1997]. Pearl Perch have a limited distribution from Rockhampton in Queensland (23°20’S) south to Port Jackson in New South Wales (33°50’S), but rarely occur south of Coffs Harbour (30°18’S) [Stewart et al. 2013]. Due to this limited distribution and influence of the prevailing southerly flowing Eastern Australian Current in distributing larvae across this area [Ridgway and Dunn 2003], Pearl Perch are considered to be a single biological stock [Stewart et al. 2015].

Here the assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Eastern Australia.

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Stock Status

Eastern Australia

The 2017 combined Queensland and New South Wales integrated statistical stock assessment (using catch, effort, length and age frequency data up until 2014) of the Eastern Australia stock estimated exploitable biomass at between 15 and 40 per cent of virgin (pre 1938) levels [Sumpton et al. 2017]. Four of the seven model scenarios estimated median biomass in 2014 to be at or below 20 per cent of virgin levels. Since 2014 standardised catch rates in Queensland have declined by a further 30 per cent and nominal catch rates in the New South Wales line fishery have declined by a further 25 per cent since that assessment [NSWDPI Unpublished]. Fishery-dependent monitoring in Queensland and New South Wales show truncated commercial and recreational age frequencies with absence of larger fish [QDAF 2018, Stewart 2011, Stewart et al. 2013]. An eleven year time series of age frequencies shows no clear signs of strong recruitment in Queensland waters. In New South Wales, length-based monitoring of commercial landings showed a steady increase in average lengths of the moderate sized fish between 2004–05 and 2014–15, with a lack of small fish observed in landings, indicative of poor recruitment during the decade [NSWDPI Unpublished]. The stock is considered to be recruitment impaired.

Fishing mortality on the Eastern Australia stock of Pearl Perch was assessed as exceeding sustainable levels during the most recent stock assessment [Sumpton et al. 2017]. Historical landings greatly exceeded the estimated maximum sustainable yield from the stock, and fishing mortality was estimated to be above or near to natural mortality. Since that time the combined harvest from Queensland and New South Wales has been at historically low levels. Harvest levels from the southern component of the Queensland fishery (Fraser Offshore south) continue to decline and this area now contributes less than 60 per cent of the total catch. The commercial fishery appears to have shifted north, with the few older fish observed in monitoring coming from this region. This spatial shift may be an indication that biomass has been subject to depletion in the main fishing area. Estimates of the recreational harvest in Queensland from 2013–14 (9 963 fish) decreased by 42 per cent from the 2010–11 estimate [Taylor et al. 2012, Webley et al. 2015]. The reported effort between surveys was similar, indicating a declining recreational catch rate. The most recent estimate of the recreational harvest of Pearl Perch in New South Wales was 4 434 fish during 2013–14 [West et al. 2015].

In Queensland, active commercial fishing licences and fishing effort days in 2017 were similar to the previous three years [QDAF 2018]. In New South Wales the number of days reported when Pearl Perch were landed in both trap and line fisheries are at or near historically low levels [NSWDPI Unpublished]. Each jurisdiction has minimum legal lengths for Pearl Perch (350 mm total length in Queensland and 300 mm total length in New South Wales) that afford limited protection to juveniles. Despite these reductions in fishing effort, the stock has shown no evidence of recovery.

This level of fishing mortality is expected to prevent the stock from recovering from its recruitment impaired state.

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

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Biology

Pearl Perch biology [McKay 1997, Sumpton et al. 2013]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Pearl Perch 22–25 years, 700 mm TL, 7.3 kg Females 2–4 years, 250–450 mm TL 
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Pearl Perch
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Tables

Fishing methods
Queensland New South Wales
Commercial
Hook and Line
Dropline
Otter Trawl
Unspecified
Fish Trap
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Charter
Hook and Line
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Queensland New South Wales
Charter
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Marine park closures
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Licence
Limited entry
Marine park closures
Size limit
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Bag limits
Native Title
Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority
Recreational
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Marine park closures
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Queensland New South Wales
102 in RRFFF 14 in OTF, 90 in OTLF
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (NSW)
RRFFF
Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)
Catch
Queensland New South Wales
Commercial 16.75t in RRFFF 45.00kg in OTF, 6.09t in OTLF
Indigenous Unknown Unknown
Recreational 9 963 fish retained in 2013/14 4 434 fish retained in 2013/14
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (NSW)
RRFFF
Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (QLD)

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.

New South Wales – Recreational (Catch) [West et al. 2015].

New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) (a) Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement—allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances; for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest for themselves; (b) The Aboriginal cultural fishing authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; and (c) In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State's fisheries resources.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Pearl Perch - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries, 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane. 
  2. McKay, RJ, 1997, FAO Species Catalogue, Vol. 17, Pearl perches of the world (family Glaucosomatidae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the pearl perches known to date, FAO Fisheries Synoposium, 125(17): 26p. Rome: FAO.
  3. Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2018–NSW Stock status summary–Pearl Perch (Glaucosoma scapulare)
  4. Stewart, J 2011, Evidence of age-class truncation in some exploited marine fish populations in New South Wales, Australia. Fisheries Research, 108 (1): 209–213.
  5. Stewart, J, Hegarty, A, Young, C, Fowler, AM and Craig, J 2015, Status of fisheries resources in NSW 2013–14, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman, 391 pp.
  6. Stewart, J, Sumpton, W., Lockett, M and Hughes, JM 2013, Age‐based demographics of the pearl perch Glaucosoma scapulare (Ramsay, 1881), Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 29(4), 801–807.
  7. Sumpton, W, Campbell, M, McLennan, M, Brown, I, Fraser, K, Wesche, S and Kerrigan, B, 2013, Addressing knowledge gaps for the sustainable management of rocky reef fisheries in southern Queensland, FRDC 2008/015 Final Report.
  8. Sumpton, W, O’Neill, MF, Campbell, M, McLennan, M and Campbell, AB 2017, Stock assessment of the Queensland and New South Wales pearl perch (Glaucosoma scapulare) fishery, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  9. Taylor S, Webley, J, McInnes K 2012, 2012 Statewide recreational Fishing Survey, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Queensland.
  10. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
  11. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle JM and Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14. Fisheries Final Report Series.