*

Southern Garfish

Hyporhamphus melanochir

  • Mike Steer (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Corey Green (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria)
  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • 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
Victoria Victoria CIF, PPBF Sustainable Catch, effort, CPUE  trends
CIF
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
PPBF
Port Phillip Bay Fishery (VIC)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

Southern Garfish has a wide distribution in Australia, extending from Lancelin in Western Australia, along the southern coast of mainland Australia and up the east coast to Eden in southern New South Wales, as well as the surrounding waters of Tasmania1.

 

There has been no research into the stock structure of Western Australian populations of Southern Garfish. However, given the limited dispersal typically displayed by Southern Garfish, and the large spatial separation between the west and south coasts of Western Australia, it is likely that the west and south coast support separate biological stocks of this species2,3. The majority of West coast landings are from Cockburn Sound, and the majority of South coast landings are from Wilson Inlet. Southern Garfish spawn within Wilson Inlet, maintaining a self-sustaining population within this estuary, which is usually separated from the ocean by a sand bar, and the two main fisheries almost certainly target separate stocks.

 

In Victoria, there has been no research into the stock structure for populations of Southern Garfish. In Tasmania, differences in size and age composition between the north coast and the east coast indicate that there may be multiple biological stocks; however, no firm evidence exists at present, and current stock assessments assume a single state-wide biological stock4.

 

A multidisciplinary otolith-based study (otolith chemistry and morphometrics) identified at least five biological stocks in South Australia: West Coast, Northern Spencer Gulf, Southern Spencer Gulf, Northern Gulf St. Vincent and Southern Gulf St. Vincent2. Given the level of spatial separation of Southern Garfish observed within the gulfs, it was assumed that Southern Garfish from the south-east also comprised a separate biological stock.

 

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—West coast and South coast (Western Australia); Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania); West Coast, Southern Spencer Gulf, Northern Spencer Gulf, Southern Gulf St. Vincent, Northern Gulf St. Vincent and South East (South Australia); and at the jurisdictional level—Victoria.

Toggle content

Stock Status

Victoria

In Victoria, Southern Garfish are predominantly landed in the Corner Inlet and Port Phillip Bay Fisheries using haul seines. Catch rates (haul seines) in the Corner Inlet Fishery declined from 1979–90 to a historical low in 1996–97. Over the period 2001–02 to 2004–05, catch rates appeared to stabilise to be variable around the long-term average9. In 2014–15, catch rates dropped to well below the long-term average, following a declining trend in the 5-year average catch rate since 2004–05. Catch rates for the Port Phillip Bay Fishery have been declining since 2011–12 and by 2014–15 were at about half the long-term average10.

 

The majority of the recreational catch of Southern Garfish comes from Port Phillip Bay. In 2000–01, it was estimated that 25 tonnes (t) was taken by the Victorian recreational fishery, constituting 3.4 per cent of the state-wide recreational catch (all species) in marine waters. Recreational catch rates of Southern Garfish by anglers in Port Phillip Bay have declined slightly since 2004–0510.

 

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, Southern Garfish in Victoria is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Southern Garfish South Australia: 10 years, 380 mm TL  Tasmania: 9.5 years; 460 mm TL Western Australia: 12 years; 430 mm TL Western Australia: 12 months; 230 mm TL South Australia: 18 months; 190 mm TL Victoria: 19 months; 210 mm TL Tasmania: 22 months; 200 mm TL

Southern Garfish biology

Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Garfish

Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
Victoria
Commercial
Mesh Net
Haul Seine
Recreational
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Dab Net
Management methods
Method Victoria
Commercial
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Indigenous
Bag limits
Size limit
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Active vessels
Victoria
16 in CIF, 20 in PPBF
CIF
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
PPBF
Port Phillip Bay Fishery (VIC)
Catch
Victoria
Commercial 26.50t in CIF, 10.65t in PPBF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 21 t (2006–07)
CIF
Corner Inlet Fishery (VIC)
PPBF
Port Phillip Bay Fishery (VIC)

Indigenousa,b,e Recreationald

 

a In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing are also applied to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Recognised Traditional Owners (groups that hold native title or have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 [Vic]) are exempt (subject to conditions) from the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, and can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise customary fishing (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). The Indigenous category in Table 3 refers to customary fishing undertaken by recognised Traditional Owners. In 2015, there were no applications for customary fishing permits to access Southern Garfish.

 

b 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 Victorian recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

 

 

c Data for the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (South Australia) and the Southern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (South Australia) have been combined because of confidentiality requirements.

 

d. In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine.

 

e In Tasmania, Indigenous people engaged in fishing activities in marine waters are exempt from holding recreational fishing licences, but must comply with all other fisheries rules as if they were licensed. Additionally, recreational bag and possession limits also apply. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, aborigines must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a Unique Identifying Code (UIC) to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Southern Garfish

Toggle content

Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • There is no indication that the hauling nets used to target Southern Garfish adversely interrupt the normal ecological processes of fish and invertebrates that occupy shallow seagrass habitats12.
  • These nets are typically lightweight, and consist of a ‘pocket’ end and lateral ‘wings’. The wings, which generally have a smaller mesh size than the pocket, are specifically designed to herd fish inhabiting surface waters into the pocket of the net, rather than enmesh them throughout the entire water column. Fish that accumulate within the pocket are manually brailed out with a handheld net, and are released or retained at the discretion of the fisher. The design and performance of these hauling nets ensures that post-release mortality of incidental bycatch is reduced, as non-targeted species can be released alive and in relatively good condition13.
Toggle content

Environmental effects on Southern Garfish

  • The impact of environmental factors on Southern Garfish stocks is unknown.
  • Southern Garfish are strongly associated with seagrass habitat at all life history stages. Degradation/loss of seagrass habitat is likely to negatively impact on local Southern Garfish stocks.
Toggle content

References

  1. 1 Gomon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R 2008, Fishes of Australia’s southern coast, New Holland Publishers, Australia.
  2. 2 Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ and Gillanders, BM 2009, Spatial management of Garfish in South Australia – stock structure and adult movement, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2007/029, Canberra.
  3. 3 Ye, Q, Jones, GK, McGlennon, D, Ayvazian, S and Coutin, P 2002, Fisheries Biology and Habitat Ecology of Southern Sea Garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) in Southern Australian Waters, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 1997/133, Canberra.
  4. 4 Emery, TJ, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2016, Tasmanian scalefish fishery assessment 2014/15, The Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Tasmania.
  5. 5 Steer, MA, McGarvey, R, Carroll, J, Burch, Jackson, WB, Lloyd, MT, Feenstra, JE 2016, Southern Garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) Fishery, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), SARDI publication F2007/000720-4, SARDI Research Report Series 891, Adelaide.
  6. 6 Pearce, A, Lenenton, R, Jackson, G, Moore, J, Feng, M and Gaughan, D 2011, The “Marine Heat Wave” off Western Australia during the Summer of 2010/11, Fisheries Research Report 222, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  7. 7 Fletcher WJ and Santoro K. 2015, Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2014/15: State of the Fisheries. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth.
  8. 8 Smith K, Dowling C., Mountford S., Hesp A., Howard A. and Brown J. in press, Status of nearshore finfish stocks in south-western Western Australia. Part 4: Southern garfish. Research Report No. 271. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  9. 9 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.
  10. 10  Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and indigenous fishing survey, Fisheries Research Development Corporation project 99/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
  11. 11 Lyle JM, Stark KE, Tracey SR 2014, 2012–13 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  12. 12 Otway, NM and McBeth, WG 1999, Physical effects of hauling on seagrass beds, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 95/149 and 96/286, Canberra.
  13. 13 Fowler, AJ, Lloyd, M and Schmarr, D 2009, South A preliminary consideration of by-catch in the Marine Scalefish fishery of South Australia, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), SARDI publication F2009/000097-1, SARDI Research Report Series 365, Adelaide.

Archived reports

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