Southern Sand Flathead

Platycephalus bassensis

  • James Andrews (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Timothy Emery (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Jeff Norriss (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)

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
South Australia South Australia Negligible
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Stock Structure

Southern Sand Flathead (Platycephalus bassensis) is endemic to Australia and distributed from the central New South Wales coast, around Tasmania to South Australia, and to Bremer Bay in Western Australia1. Southern Sand Flathead inhabit bays, inlets, estuaries and shallow coastal waters to a depth of around 100 m2. There is some evidence of regional subpopulations with differences in physical characteristics, recruitment dynamics and growth rates. For example, Southern Sand Flathead from Port Phillip Bay have slower growth and the asymptotic length is 30 per cent smaller than fish from Bass Strait and 20 per cent smaller than fish from south-east Tasmania3. However, biological stock structure has not been studied in detail and each of the jurisdictions has different management arrangements for Southern Sand Flathead.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status

South Australia

Stock status for South Australia is reported as negligible due to low catches by this jurisdiction. The species is rare in South Australia; catch is unknown but very low, possibly zero.

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Southern Sand flathead biology8–10

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Southern Sand Flathead 23 years (both sexes) Males 370 mm TL Females 480 mm TL Males 2.5–3.5 years, 210 mm TL Females 2.6–5.2 years, 235 mm TL
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Sand Flathead

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Fishing methods
South Australia

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 Sand Flathead.
b 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.c Tasmanian – Indigenous In Tasmania, Indigenous people engaged in aboriginal 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, as do size limits. 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.

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Because most of the catch (95 per cent) is taken by recreational anglers using hand lines, and rods and reels, the effects of fishing on the marine environment are relatively low.
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Environmental effects on Southern Sand Flathead

  • A recent review concluded that declining recruitment from the mid-1990s onwards led to the decline of Southern Sand Flathead stocks in Port Phillip Bay from 2000 onwards. This decline in recruitment coincided with a prolonged drought in Victoria from 1997–2009, characterised by substantially lower rainfall and river flows3. The authors found that recruitment in Port Phillip Bay was significantly correlated with Yarra River flows during November and December, when the majority of Southern Sand Flathead larvae occur in the water column. It is suggested that climatic effects on this stage of the life cycle may be driving variations in recruitment.
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  1. 1 Edgar, GJ 2000, Australian marine life: the plants and animals of temperate waters, Reed New Holland Publishers, Frenchs Forest.
  2. 2 Koopman, MT, Morrison, AK and Coutin PC (eds) 2009, Sand Flathead 2000, compiled by the Bays and Inlets Stock and Fishery Assessment Group, Fisheries Victoria internal report 10, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  3. 3 Hirst, A, Rees, C, Hamer, PA, Kemp, JE, and Conron, SD 2014, The decline of Sand Flathead stocks in Port Phillip Bay: magnitude, causes and future prospects, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
  4. 4 Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, Fisheries Research andDevelopment Corporation project 99/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
  5. 5 Hamer P, Conron S, Hirst A and Kemp J 2016, Sand Flathead Stock Assessment 2015. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 13, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
  6. 6 Koopman, M, Morison, AK and Troynikov, V 2004, Population dynamics and assessment of sand and rock flathead in Victorian waters, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2000/120, Primary Industries Research Victoria, Marine and Freshwater Systems, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  7. 7 Emery, T, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2016, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery assessment 2014/15, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  8. 8 Ewing, GP and Lyle, JM 2015, Low-cost monitoring regime to assess relative abundance and population characteristics of sand flathead 2015 update, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  9. 9 Bani, A, and Moltschaniwskyj, NA 2008, Spatio-temporal variability in reproductive ecology of Sand Flathead, Platycephalus bassensis, in three Tasmanian inshore habitats: potential implications for management, Journal of Applied Icthyology, 24(2008): 555–561.
  10. 10 Jordan, AR 1998, The life‐history ecology of Platycephalus bassensis and Nemadactylus macropterus, PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

Archived reports

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