*

King George Whiting (2018)

Sillaginodes punctatus

  • Paul Hamer (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Kim Smith (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

Toggle content

Summary

King George Whiting is a sustainable species found in WA, VIC and SA waters. It is the premium species in SA and attracts the highest price per unit weight for commercial fishers.

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria CIF, GLF, OF, PPBWPF, ITF, OW Sustainable Catch, CPUE, age/length structures, pre-recruit survey
CIF
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
GLF
Gippsland Lakes Fishery (VIC)
ITF
Inshore Trawl Fishery (VIC)
OF
Ocean Fishery (VIC)
OW
Ocean Wrasse (VIC)
PPBWPF
Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay Fishery (VIC)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

Research on King George Whiting stock structure in southern Australia using genetic and otolith chemistry approaches indicates that separate stocks occur in each state jurisdiction (Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia), but with some genetic mixing between Victorian and South Australian populations [Jenkins et al. 2015]. King George Whiting sampled from northern Tasmania appear genetically different from those in the mainland states, although further sampling is required to confirm whether there are separate genetic stocks in Tasmania [Jenkins et al. 2015].

The South Australian population of King George Whiting is thought to be comprised of three biological stocks—Gulf St. Vincent, Spencer Gulf and the West Coast - Eyre Peninsula. This delineation has been determined based on a detailed understanding of the life history, including movement patterns of adult fish, knowledge of the location of spawning grounds and nursery areas [Fowler et al. 2000a, Fowler et al. 2002] and understanding of larval advection pathways and distances based on early life history and hydrodynamic modelling [Fowler et al. 2000b]. The Gulf St. Vincent biological stock occurs throughout Gulf St. Vincent, Investigator Strait and around Kangaroo Island. The Spencer Gulf biological stock occurs throughout the waters of Spencer Gulf and adjacent coastal waters from western Kangaroo Island to the Eyre Peninsula. The West Coast - Eyre Peninsula biological stock extends throughout all the bays and offshore areas of the west coast of Eyre Peninsula.

Further subdivision in biological stock structure is uncertain for Western Australian and Victorian populations. In Western Australia, King George Whiting occurs in the West Coast Bioregion (WCB) and South Coast Bioregion (SCB). Juveniles occur in inshore waters of both bioregions, but adults appear to be restricted to offshore waters of the WCB [Brown et al. 2013, Hyndes et al. 1998, Sulin 2012]. On this basis there is assumed to be a single biological stock in Western Australia, with the spawning component of the stock residing in the WCB. Similarly, there is assumed to be a single biological stock in Victorian waters, with juveniles occurring mostly in bays and estuaries and adults in coastal waters [Jenkins 2015].

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

Toggle content

Stock Status

Victoria

King George Whiting occur in bays, estuaries and coastal waters throughout Victoria. The most productive fisheries occur in Port Phillip Bay, Corner Inlet-Nooramunga and Western Port. Stock status of King George Whiting in Victoria is assessed using a weight-of-evidence approach that considers catch per unit effort (CPUE ) from both commercial and recreational sectors, annual fishery-independent surveys of post-larval recruitment in Port Phillip Bay, and age/length composition of the catch [VFA 2017]. Importantly, the indicator data are derived from bay and inlet fisheries that only catch juvenile King George Whiting because the adult life stage occurs in coastal waters [Jenkins et al. 2015]. When describing the status of the Victorian King George Whiting stock it is important to consider how the life history characteristics influence the above indicators.

The dynamics of King George Whiting populations and fisheries in Victorian bays and inlets are strongly influenced by climatic factors that influence the number of larvae transported into the bay and inlet nurseries from coastal spawning areas during spring [Hamer and Jenkins 1996, Jenkins and May 1994, Jenkins et al. 2000, Jenkins 2005]. Because most King George Whiting leave the bays and inlets permanently by four years of age (prior to adulthood) [Hamer et al. 2004], these fisheries are based on just a few age classes/cohorts at any point in time. This means that the fisheries are highly variable at short time scales. Over the past 60 years King George Whiting fisheries production in Victorian bays and estuaries has shown peaks and troughs at approximately 10 to 12 year intervals. These cycles are thought to be related to variation in zonal westerly winds that influence larval transport and survival [Jenkins 2005]. The focus of the fisheries on the bays and inlets also means that the adults occurring in coastal waters are subject to low fishing mortality.

The most recent state-wide King George Whiting assessment was conducted in 2017 [VFA 2017], and assessments of the Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and Corner Inlet fisheries were conducted in 2016 [Conron et al. 2016a, Conron et al. 2016b, Hamer and Giri 2016]. These assessments indicated that King George Whiting catch rates for the main commercial fishing method (haul seine) had increased from 2014–15 to 2015–16 in the two main fisheries at that time; Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet. Since 2015/16, commercial catch rate information is no longer informative for Port Phillip Bay due to the removal of most of the haul seine effort. For Corner Inlet, catch rates declined sharply after 2015–16 [VFA, unpublished data]. The recent increase and decrease in catch rate is consistent with surveys of post-larval recruitment in Port Phillip Bay that showed higher recruitment of post-larvae in spring 2013, followed by lower recruitment in 2014 and 2015 [VFA 2017]. Length compositions of recreational catches in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port show long-term stability since surveys began in 2002 [Conron et al. 2016b, VFA 2017]. Length compositions for commercial catches in Corner-Inlet Nooramunga are consistently bi-modal reflecting the two age classes that dominate the harvests, with few fish over 400 mm [Conron et al. 2016].

Recent surveys of post-larvae recruitment have shown increased recruitment in 2016 and 2017, with 2017 being the third highest recruitment of post-larvae observed since surveys began in 1998 [VFA, unpublished data]. This suggests the stock is not recruitment impaired. The 2016 and 2017 cohorts will enter the fishery over the coming few years.

Commercial effort for all gear types in Victoria has decreased since 1999 due to a reduction in the number of licensed commercial fishers in Victorian waters [VFA 2017]. Commercial netting is being phased out in Port Phillip Bay. Since 2016, 34 of the 43 licences have been bought out by the Victorian Government. Commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay will cease by 2022. Commercial harvest of King George Whiting from Port Phillip Bay reduced from approximately 62 t in 2016 to 28 t in 2017, largely due to the reduced effort. The main commercial King George Whiting fishery is now the Corner Inlet-Nooramunga Fishery, where the catch in 2017 was approximately 32 t, down from approximately 140 t in 2016.

The species remains highly targeted by recreational fishers in Port Phillip Bay, Corner Inlet-Nooramunga, and Western Port, although no recent information on recreational catch is available. The most recent estimate of State-wide recreational catch was approximately 155 t in 2006–07 [Ryan et al. 2009].

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Further, the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence above, King George Whiting in Victoria is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

King George Whiting biology [Fowler et al. 2000, Hamer et al. 2004, Hyndes et al. 1998, Sulin 2012]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
King George Whiting South Australia 22 years, 590 mm TL Western Australia at least 14 years, 620 mm TL Victoria at least 11 years, 600 mm TL South Australia 3–4 years, 300–350 mm TL Western Australia 3–4 years, 410 mm TL Victoria unknown
Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of King George Whiting
Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
Victoria
Commercial
Hook and Line
Net
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Victoria
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Licence
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial restrictions
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Size limit
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Victoria
18 in CIF, 8 in GLF, 3 in ITF, 14 in OF, 1 in OW, 9 in PPBWPF
CIF
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
GLF
Gippsland Lakes Fishery (VIC)
ITF
Inshore Trawl Fishery (VIC)
OF
Ocean Fishery (VIC)
OW
Ocean Wrasse (VIC)
PPBWPF
Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay Fishery (VIC)
Catch
Victoria
Commercial 32.16t in CIF, 846.84kg in GLF, 474.50kg in OF, 28.54t in PPBWPF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
CIF
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
GLF
Gippsland Lakes Fishery (VIC)
OF
Ocean Fishery (VIC)
PPBWPF
Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay Fishery (VIC)

Western Australia – Recreational (Management methods) In Western Australia a recreational fishing licence is only required for fishing from a boat.

Victoria – Recreational (Management methods) Boat limits do not apply in Victoria. In Victoria a recreational fishing licence is required for all forms or recreational fishing, unless exempt.

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.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of King George Whiting - note confidential catch not shown
Toggle content

References

  1. Brown, J, Dowling, C, Hesp, A, Smith, K and Molony, B 2013, Status of nearshore finfish stocks in south-western Western Australia. Part 3: Whiting (Sillaginidae), Fisheries Research Report 248, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  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. Conron, S, Hamer, P, and Jenkins, G 2016, Western Port Fishery Assessment 2015. Recreational Fishing Grants Program Research Report, Fisheries Victoria, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
  4. Fisher, EA, Hesp, SA, Hall, NG and Sulin, EH 2014, Predicting the impacts of shifting recreational fishing effort towards inshore species, Final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2010/001
  5. Fowler, AJ, Black, KP, and Jenkins, GP 2000, Determination of spawning areas and larval advection pathways for King George whiting in south-eastern Australia using otolith microstructure and hydrodynamic modelling II. South Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 199: 243–254.
  6. Fowler, AJ, Jones, GK, McGarvey, R 2002, Characteristics and consequences of movement patterns of King George whiting (Perciformes: Sillaginodes punctata) in South Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 53: 1055–1069.
  7. Fowler, AJ, McGarvey, R, Carroll, J and Feenstra, JE 2014, King George Whiting (Sillaginodes punctatus), Fishery Assessment Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. F2007/000843-4. SARDI Research Report Series No. 801. 85 pp.
  8. Fowler, AJ, McLeay, L, and Short, DA 2000, Spatial variation in size and age structures and reproductive characteristics of the King George whiting (Percoidei: Sillaginidae) in South Australian waters. Marine and Freshwater Research, 51: 11–22.
  9. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  10. Hamer, P and Giri, K 2016, Port Phillip Bay Commercial Fishery Assessment 2016, Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 9.
  11. Hamer, PA and Jenkins, GP 1996, Larval supply and short-term recruitment of a temperate zone demersal fish, the King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata Cuvier and Valenciennes, to an embayment in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Experimental Biology and Ecology, 208: 197–214.
  12. Hamer, PA, Jenkins, GP and Sivakumaran, KP 2004, Identifying the spawning locations of King George whiting in Victoria: a recreational fishing based study, Fisheries Victoria Assessment Report Series No. 21, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  13. Hyndes, GA, Platell, ME, Potter, IC and Lenanton, RCJ 1998, Age composition, growth, reproductive biology and recruitment of King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata, in south western Australia. Fishery Bulletin U.S., 96: 258–270.
  14. Jenkins, GP 2005, The influence of climate on the fishery recruitment of a temperate, seagrass associated fish, the King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 288: 263–271.
  15. Jenkins, GP and May, HMA 1994, Variation in settlement and larval duration of King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata (Sillaginidae), in Swan Bay, Victoria, Australia. Bulletin of Marine Science 54: 281–296.
  16. Jenkins, GP, Black, KP and Hamer, PA 2000, Determination of spawning areas and larval advection pathways for King George whiting in south-eastern Australia using otolith microstructure and hydrodynamic modelling, I. Victoria. Marine Ecology Progress Series 199: 231–242.
  17. Jenkins, GP, Hamer, PA, Kent, JA, Kemp, J and Fowler, AJ 2015, Spawning sources, movement patterns, and nursery area replenishment of spawning populations of King George whiting in south-eastern Australia — closing the life history loop, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Final Report, Deakin, Canberra.
  18. 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, Western Australia. 205 pp.
  19. Ryan, KL, Morison, AK and Conron, S 2009, Evaluating methods of obtaining total catch estimates for individual Victorian bay and inlet recreational fisheries. Final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2003/047, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  20. 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. 250pp.
  21. Sulin, EH 2012, Comparisons of the size and age compositions and growth of King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata) in different regions of south-western Australia. M.Sc. thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
  22. Victorian Fisheries Authority, 2017, Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1.

Archived reports

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