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Mulloway

Argyrosomus japonicus

  • Jason Earl (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • David Fairclough (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)
  • Jonathan Staunton-Smith (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Julian Hughes (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)

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

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
New South Wales New South Wales EGF, OHF, OTF, OTLF Overfished Catch, CPUE, length and age composition, mortality rates
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
OHF
Ocean Hauling (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line (NSW)
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Stock Structure

Mulloway are widely distributed in estuaries and near-shore coastal waters (less than 200 m) of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, including subtropical and temperate waters of Australia1. The species occurs along the entire southern seaboard of mainland Australia, from North West Cape in Western Australia to Burnett River in Queensland2,3.

Attempts to understand the biological stock structure of Mulloway in Australia have yielded differing results. It has been suggested that a single panmictic population occurs in Australia3, but this is not supported by studies that suggest sub-structuring between populations in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia4,5. Biological stock delineation for Mulloway in Australia remains uncertain.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

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Stock Status

New South Wales

Commercial landings of Mulloway in New South Wales steadily declined from almost 400 t in the mid-1970s to a historic low of 37 t in 2008–09, and commercial landings have been less than 100 t per year since the mid-1990s. In 2015, the total State-wide commercial catch was 74 t. The recreational catch for Mulloway was estimated to be 351 t in 2000–019 and has declined to 103 t in 2013–1410. Nominal commercial catch rates for Mulloway have declined during the past 20 years in ocean and estuarine fisheries (unpublished data, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries). The average lengths of Mulloway landed by the commercial fishery have declined since the mid-1990s, but have been stable since the mid-2000s11–13. The composition of fish in commercial landings since the early-2000s is indicative of a heavily fished stock (around 80 per cent of catch is less than 700 mm, the approximate size at maturity for female Mulloway in New South Wales)11–13. Fishing mortality is estimated to be several times greater than natural mortality13. The current spawning potential ratio for Mulloway is estimated to be between 16 and 25 per cent13, which is below the threshold reference point of 25 per cent. This indicates that there may be a high risk of recruitment failure14,15. The above evidence indicates that the stock is likely to be recruitment overfished.

In 2013, a recovery program for Mulloway was introduced in New South Wales to arrest the decline in commercial and recreational Mulloway fisheries. Management changes to the recreational fishery included an increase in legal minimum size from 450–700 mm and a 60 per cent reduction in the daily bag limit. Management changes to the commercial fishery included the above increase in legal minimum size (with bycatch limits for the estuarine mesh net fishery) and a 500 kg trip limit for the beach-hauling net sector. This level of fishing pressure is expected to allow the stock to recover from its recruitment overfished state; however measurable improvements in biomass are yet to be detected.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Mulloway in New South Wales is classified as an overfished stock.

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Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Mulloway 42 years; 2000 mm TL  2–6 years; 510–1070 mm TL

Mulloway biology2,20,21

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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Mulloway

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Tables

Fishing methods
New South Wales
Commercial
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Coastal, Estuary and River Set Nets
Mesh Net
Haul Seine
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Management methods
Method New South Wales
Commercial
Bycatch limits
Catch limits
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Section 31 (1)(c1), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Active vessels
New South Wales
234 in EGF, 12 in OHF, 40 in OTF, 66 in OTLF
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
OHF
Ocean Hauling (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line (NSW)
Catch
New South Wales
Commercial 61.76t in EGF, 717.60kg in OHF, 870.86kg in OTF, 11.08t in OTLF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 103 t (in 2013–14)
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
OHF
Ocean Hauling (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line (NSW)

a New South Wales – Commercial (management methods) Fishers using mesh nets in the New South Wales commercial Estuary General Fishery are permitted a bycatch allowance of 10 Mulloway between 450 and 700 mm per day. Fishers using haul nets in the New South Wales commercial Ocean Hauling Fishery are permitted a bycatch allowance of 500 kg of Mulloway per day.

b 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 possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.

c New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods) Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement - allows an Aboriginal 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 themselves.

d  Western Australia – Indigenous In Western Australia, 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.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Mulloway

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Mulloway are targeted by commercial fisheries using mainly mesh gillnets and hauling nets. These activities are considered to pose a low risk to the environment22.
  • Some bycatch and discard mortality may be expected from mesh gillnets used to target Mulloway, including the capture of small individuals of some species23,24. However, these nets are highly selective in their ability to capture target species22.
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Environmental effects on Mulloway

  • Estuaries are important nursery areas for Mulloway20. The availability of suitable habitat and trophic resources for Mulloway in estuaries is largely dependent on the magnitude, frequency and timing of freshwater inflows, which can affect recruitment and the availability of Mulloway to estuarine-based fisheries18,19.
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References

  1. 1 Griffiths, MH and Heemstra, PC 1995, A contribution to the taxonomy of the marine fish genus Argyrosomus (Perciformes: Sciaenidae) with descriptions of two new species from southern Africa, Ichthyological Bulletin of the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology, 65: 1–40.
  2. 2 Farmer, BM 2008, Comparisons of the biological and genetic characteristics of the mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus (Sciaenidae) in different regions of Western Australia, PhD thesis, Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, Murdoch University, Perth.
  3. 3 Archangi, B 2008, Levels and patterns of genetic diversity in wild and cultured populations of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) using mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites, PhD thesis, School of Natural Resource Sciences, Queensland University of Technology.
  4. 4 Barnes, TC, Junge, C, Myers, SA, Taylor, MD, Rogers, PJ, Ferguson, GJ, Lieschke, JA, Donnellan, SC and Gillanders, BM 2015, Population structure in a wide-ranging coastal teleost (Argyrosomus japonicus, Sciaenidae) reflects marine biogeography across southern Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 67: 1103–1113.
  5. 5 Ferguson, GJ, Ward, TM and Gillanders, BM 2011, Otolith shape and elemental composition: complimentary tools for stock discrimination of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) in southern Australia, Fisheries Research, 110: 75–83.
  6. 6 Fletcher, WJ and Santoro, K (ed.s) 2015, Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2014/15: The state of the fisheries, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth.
  7. 7 Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM and Wise, BS 2015, State-wide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2013–14, Fisheries research report 268, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth.
  8. 8 Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide recreational fishing survey 2013–14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  9. 9 Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and Indigenous fishing survey, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Fisheries Action Program Project FRDC, project 1999/158, New South Wales Fisheries final report series 48, NSW Fisheries, Cronulla.
  10. 10 West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013–14, Fisheries final report series 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.
  11. 11 Silberschneider, V, Gray, CA and Stewart, J 2009, Age, growth, maturity and the overfishing of the iconic sciaenid, Argyrosomus japonicus, in south-eastern Australia, Fisheries Research, 95(2–3): 220–229.
  12. 12 Silberschneider, V and Gray CA 2005, Arresting the decline of the commercial and recreational fisheries for Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2001/027, final report series 82, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla.
  13. 13 Stewart, JA, Hegarty, A, Young, C, Fowler, AM and Craig, J (ed.s) 2015, Status of fisheries resources in NSW 2013–14, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Mosman.
  14. 14 Goodyear, CP 1993, Spawning stock biomass per recruit in fisheries management: foundation and current use, in SJ Smith, JJ Hunt and D Rivard (ed.s), Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 120, NRC Research Press, pp 67–81.
  15. 15 Mace, PM and Sissenwine, MP 1993, How much spawning per recruit is enough?, in SJ Smith, JJ Hunt and D Rivard (ed.s), Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 120, NRC Research Press, pp 101–118.
  16. 16 Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian recreational fishing survey 2013–14, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62, Victoria.
  17. 17 Earl, J 2016, Fishery statistics for the South Australian Lakes and Coorong Fishery 2014/15, report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, publication F2009/000669-7, SARDI research report series 917, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  18. 18 Earl, J and Ward, TM 2014, Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) stock assessment report 2013–14, report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, publication F2007/000898-3, SARDI research report series 814, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  19. 19 Ye, Q, Bucater, L and Short, D (in prep.), Fish response to flow in the Murray Estuary and Coorong during 2014–15 in comparison with years of different flow scenarios, Report to Department of Water and Natural Resources, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  20. 20 Ferguson, GJ, Ward, TM, Ivey, A and Barnes, T 2013, Life history of Argyrosomus japonicus, a large sciaenid at the southern part of its global distribution: implications for fisheries management, Fisheries Research, 151: 148–157.
  21. 21 Silberschneider, V and Gray, CA 2008, Synopsis of biological, fisheries and aquaculture-related information on mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus (Pisces: Sciaenidae), with particular reference to Australia, Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 24(1): 7–17.
  22. 22 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.
  23. 23 Gray, CA 2002, Management implications of discarding in an estuarine multi-species gill net fishery, Fisheries Research, 56: 177–192.
  24. 24 Gray, CA, Johnson, DD, Broadhurst, MK and Young, DJ 2005, Seasonal, spatial and gear-related influences on relationships between retained and discarded catches in a multi-species gillnet fishery, Fisheries Research, 75: 56–72.

Archived reports

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