*

Sea Mullet

Mugil cephalus

  • John Stewart (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Andrew Prosser (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Kim Smith (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)

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

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia EGBSMNMF,CSFNMF, SWTMF, WCBBFNMF, WL (WC), SBBSMNMF, SCEMF, SWCBNF, WCEMF Sustainable Catch, CPUE
EGBSMNMF,CSFNMF, SWTMF, WCBBFNMF, WL (WC)
Exmouth Gulf Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery, Cockburn Sound (Line and Pot) Managed Fishery, South West Trawl Managed Fishery, West Coast (Beach Bait Fish Net) Managed Fishery, Open access in the West Coast (WA)
SBBSMNMF
Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
SWCBNF
South West Coast Beach Net Fishery (Order) (WA)
WCEMF
West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

Extensive tagging studies1 suggest a single east coast biological stock of Sea Mullet, extending from central Queensland to eastern Victoria. The biological stock structure of Sea Mullet off Western Australia is likely to be complex, although limited tagging and genetic studies2,3 suggest mixing of fish throughout the lower west coast region, where the majority of the catch is taken. Therefore, a single Western Australian biological stock is assumed.

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

Toggle content

Stock Status

Western Australia

The assessment for Sea Mullet is based on trends in catches and catch rates in the three main fisheries (Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery, South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery, West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery [Table 1]) that have captured 80 per cent of the total commercial catch in the past decade (2006–15). Catch rates in these fisheries have been relatively stable since 1980. The catch rate trends suggest long-term stability in Sea Mullet abundance in each bioregion, with a slight increase in recent years. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

Sea Mullet occurs in all coastal regions of Western Australia, but commercial targeting of the species is mainly restricted to waters from Shark Bay southwards4. In 2015, the total annual commercial catch of Sea Mullet in Western Australia was 200 tonnes (t). The total catch has declined by about 50 per cent since the 1990s as a consequence of commercial effort reductions in coastal and estuarine areas, attributable to licence buy-backs and spatial closures. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Western Australian biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Sea Mullet Eastern Australia: 16 years; 640 mm FL Western Australia: 12 years; 790 mm FL Eastern Australia: Males 300 mm TL; Females 330 mm TL Western Australia: Males and Females 370 mm TL

Sea Mullet biology5,7,8,9

Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Sea Mullet

Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Various
Recreational
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Coastal, Estuary and River Set Nets
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Active vessels
Western Australia
7 in SBBSMNMF, 27 in SCEMF, 9 in SWCBNF, 11 in WCEMF, 69 in WL (SC), 15 in WL (WC)
SBBSMNMF
Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
SWCBNF
South West Coast Beach Net Fishery (Order) (WA)
WCEMF
West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
WL (WC)
Open Access in the West Coast (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 37.97t in EGBSMNMF,CSFNMF, SWTMF, WCBBFNMF, WL (WC), 37.40t in SBBSMNMF, 17.56t in SCEMF, 15.04t in SWCBNF, 92.10t in WCEMF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
EGBSMNMF,CSFNMF, SWTMF, WCBBFNMF, WL (WC)
Exmouth Gulf Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery, Cockburn Sound (Line and Pot) Managed Fishery, South West Trawl Managed Fishery, West Coast (Beach Bait Fish Net) Managed Fishery, Open access in the West Coast (WA)
SBBSMNMF
Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
SWCBNF
South West Coast Beach Net Fishery (Order) (WA)
WCEMF
West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)

Indigenousb,c

a Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994, 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 can be obtained through permits.

b 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.

c Aboriginal Cultural Fishing authority—the authority to which Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1)(c1), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Sea Mullet

Toggle content

Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • The main fisheries for Sea Mullet use beach seining. This fishing method is highly targeted and as a result there is very little bycatch in these fisheries10. In Queensland, the component of by-product caught in estuarine gillnets in the Sea Mullet fishery is less than 20 per cent by number, and much of this is retained and marketed11.
Toggle content

Environmental effects on Sea Mullet

  • Sea Mullet penetrate far up rivers, often into fresh water, and barriers to fish passage (such as weirs and dams) can reduce the amount of habitat available to the species. Being highly dependent on riverine and estuarine habitats12, Sea Mullet populations are vulnerable to fluctuations in water quality. Eutrophication and hypoxia can cause significant fish kills.
Toggle content

References

  1. 1 Kesteven, GL 1953, Further results of tagging sea mullet, Mugil cephalus Linnaeus, on the eastern Australian coast, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 4: 251–306.
  2. 2 Thomson, JM 1951, Growth and habits of the sea mullet, Mugil dobula Gunther, in Western Australia, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 2: 193–225.
  3. 3 Watts, RJ and Johnson, MS 2004, Estuaries, lagoons and enclosed embayments: habitats that enhance subdivision of inshore fishes, Marine and Freshwater Research, 55: 641–651.
  4. 4 Fletcher, WJ and Santoro, K (eds) 2015, Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2014/15: the state of the fisheries. Western Australian Department of Fisheries, Perth.
  5. 5 Fisheries Queensland monitoring data 1999–2015, Monitoring our fisheries, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
  6. 6 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.
  7. 7 Virgona, JL, Deguara, KL, Sullings, DJ, Halliday, I and Kelly, K 1998, Assessment of the stocks of sea mullet in New South Wales and Queensland Waters. Final Report Series No. 2. New South Wales Fisheries, Cronulla.
  8. 8 Gaughan, D, Ayvazian, S, Nowara, G and Craine, M 2006, The development of a rigorous sampling methodology for a long-term annual index of recruitment for finfish species from south-western Australia, Final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 1999/153, Fisheries Research Report 154, Western Australian Department of Fisheries, Perth.
  9. 9 Smith, KA and Deguara, KL 2002, Review of biological information and stock assessment for the NSW sea mullet resource, NSW Fisheries Resource Assessment Series No. 12, New South Wales Fisheries, Cronulla.
  10. 10 Broadhurst, MK, Wooden, MEL and Miller, RB 2007, Isolating selection mechanisms in beach seines, Fisheries Research, 88: 56–69.
  11. 11 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 136 97/206), Department of Primary Industries, Queensland.
  12. 12 Fowler, AM., Smith, SM, Booth, DJ and Stewart, J 2016, Partial migration of grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) on Australia’s east coast revealed by otolith chemistry. Marine Environmental Research, 119: 238–244.

Archived reports

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