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Stock Status Overview
|Tasmania||Scalefish Fishery||SF||Transitional-depleting||Catch, effort, CPUE trends|
- Scalefish Fishery (TAS)
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.
In 1995–2005, commercial catches of Southern Garfish were stable and typically ranged between 80–100 t. Over the past decade, catches have fluctuated between 40 and 60 t and fell to 24 t in 20154. The initial decline in catches coincided with a reduction in average size and truncation of age classes in the catch, which may have resulted from heavy fishing pressure and/or a period of poor recruitment. As a result, seasonal closures were introduced in 2009 to protect spawning fish. By 2012, there was evidence of an increase in the size of Southern Garfish landed, a greater range of age classes present and increasing catch per unit effort, which collectively was interpreted to indicate stock recovery. However, catch rates in 2014–15 have again declined substantially to levels similar to the late-2000s when the stock was considered to be in a depleted state4. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is likely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania) biological stock is classified as a transitional–depleting stock.
Southern Garfish 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|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Garfish
|Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels|
|Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels|
|25 in SF|
- Scalefish Fishery (TAS)
|Commercial||23.53t in SF|
|Recreational||2 t (in 2012–13 survey)|
- Scalefish Fishery (TAS)
a Victoria – Indigenous 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 Victoria – Indigenous (management methods) 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 South Australia – Commercial (catch) 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 Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine.e Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) 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 .
Commercial catch of Southern Garfish - note confidential catch not shown
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.
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.
- 1 Gomon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R 2008, Fishes of Australia’s southern coast, New Holland Publishers, Australia.
- 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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