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Barramundi

Lates calcarifer

  • Thor Saunders (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Olivia Whybird (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Stephen Newman (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery KGBMF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, effort
KGBMF
Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi ManagedFishery (WA)
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Stock Structure

Separate biological stocks of Barramundi exist at the scale of individual catchments across northern Australia1,2. However, the difficulty in obtaining relevant biological and catch-and-effort information to assess each individual biological stock has meant that Barramundi have been assessed as two separate management units (Northern Territory and Western Australia) and seven genetic biological stocks (Queensland: Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Gulf of Carpentaria, Princess Charlotte Bay, North-east coast, Mackay, central east coast and South-east coast). The high levels of stocking in catchments on the east coast Queensland is unlikely to compromise this stock structure as parents from the same genetic stock are used to produce fingerlings. The assessments of the management units are based on the biological stocks that receive the highest harvest rates and whose status is assumed to be representative of the highest level of exploitation that occurs on any biological stock within each unit.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery (Western Australia), Barramundi Fishery (Northern Territory); and the biological stock level—Southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Gulf of Carpentaria, Princess Charlotte Bay, North-east coast, Mackay, Central east coast and South-east coast.

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Stock Status

Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery

The harvest strategy for Barramundi in the Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery in the Kimberley region of Western Australia is based on a constant commercial catch policy where the annual commercial catches of Barramundi are allowed to vary within a target catch range, which is based on a historical catch range during which the fishery was stable and levels of exploitation were considered to be sustainable. The target catch range has been calculated as 33–44 tonnes (t)3.

The Barramundi catch in 2015 was 52 t; above the target catch range, but below the limit range (23–54 t). The increased catch was obtained with high catch per unit effort (CPUE) (around 130 kg per block day) across the fishery and indicates this increase was a result of increased recruitment and not an increase in effort in the fishery. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of these stocks is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

In 2013, two licenses were removed from the Broome sector of the fishery3. This sector of the fishery is now recreational- and Indigenous-only fishing. This effort removal has reduced the potential level of fishing mortality. This level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stocks to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Barramundi 35 years; 1500 mm TL Northern Territory: Males 2–5 years; 730 mm TL Females 5–7 years; 910  mm TL Queensland: Males 2–5 years; 640 mm TL Females 5–7 years; 820 mm TL

Barramundi biology9

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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Barramundi

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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Various
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Seasonal closures
Size limit
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Laws of general application apply
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Limited entry
Passenger restrictions
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Active vessels
Western Australia
4 in KGBMF
KGBMF
Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi ManagedFishery (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 52.40t in KGBMF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 3.57 t , 6.82t
KGBMF
Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi ManagedFishery (WA)

Indigenousa Commercial (catch)b

a 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 bag limits and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations can be obtained through permits.

b Princess Charlotte Bay catch is not reportable as fewer than five boats operated in the fishery in 2015.

c Western Australia – Recreational (catch) boat-based recreational catch from 1 May 2013–30 April 2014.

d Queensland – Recreational (catch) Survey of Queensland residents onlyfrom August 2013–October 1418.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Barramundi

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Commercial gillnets have almost no impact on the environment and are quite selective, with bycatch making up only a small proportion of the catch13.
  • However, commercial gillnets do interact with threatened, endangered and protected species and while reported interactions are low, the impact on the populations of these species is unknown3,7,13. The main mitigation method for limiting gillnet interaction with these species has been closing substantial parts of the fishing area to this gear3,4,7.
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Environmental effects on Barramundi

  • The duration, magnitude and timing of the wet season strongly drives biomass and harvest of Barramundi stocks, with large wet seasons resulting in higher recruitment than smaller wet seasons8,12,19.
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References

  1. 1 Keenan, CP 1994, Recent evolution of population structure in Australian Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch): An example of isolation by distance in one dimension, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 45: 1123–1148.
  2. 2 Keenan, CP 2000, Should we allow human-induced migration of the Indo West Pacific fish, Barramundi Lates calcarifer (Bloch) within Australia, Aquaculture Research, 31: 121–131.
  3. 3 Brown, JI, Newman, SJ, Mitsopoulos, G, Skepper, C, Thomson, A and Wallis, D. 2015. North coast nearshore and estuarine fishery status report, in WJ Fletcher and K Santoro (ed.s). Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2014–15: State of the fisheries. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth, pp 182–188.
  4. 4 Northern Territory Government Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries 2016, Status of key Northern Territory fish stocks report 2014, Fishery Report No. 115, NT DPIF, Darwin.
  5. 5 Welch, D, Gribble, N, and Garrett, R 2002, Assessment of the Barramundi fishery in Queensland–2002. Queensland Department of Primary Industries.
  6. 6 Healy, T 1992, Gulf of Carpentaria fishery review background paper no. 1 WFMA, Brisbane.
  7. 7 Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 2016, Queensland stock status assessment workshop 2016, 14–15 June 2016, Brisbane, Queensland, DAFF, Brisbane.
  8. 8 Halliday, IA, Saunders, T, Sellin, M, Allsop, Q, Robins, JB, McLennan, M and Kurnoth, P 2012, Flow impacts on estuarine finfish fisheries of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2007/002, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
    https://www.frdc.com.au/research/Documents/Final_reports/2007-002-DLD.pdf
  9. 9 Davis, TLO 1982, Maturity and sexuality in Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in the Northern Territory and south-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 33: 529–545.
    http://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/MF9820529
  10. 10 Dunstan, DJ 1959, The Barramundi of Queensland water. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian Division of Fisheries and Oceanography Technical Paper No. 5, CSIRO, Melbourne.
  11. 11 Davis, TLO 1987, Biology of Lates calcarifer in Northern Austalia,in JW Copland and DL Grey, Management of wild and cultured sea bass/barramundi (Lates calcarifer): Proceedings of an international workshop held at Darwin, NT Australia, 24-30 September 1986, ACIAR Proceedings No. 20, pp 22–29.
  12. 12 Balston, J 2009, An analysis of the impacts of long-term climate variability on the commercial Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) fishery of north-east Queensland, Australia, Fisheries Research, 99: 83–89.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165783609001076
  13. 13 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.
  14. 14 De Lestang, P, Griffin, RK, and Allsop QA 2004, Assessment of the post-release survival and stress physiology of barramundi (Lates calcarifer), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2002/039, Northern Territory Government Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development, Darwin.
  15. 15 Ley, JA and Halliday, IA, 2004 A key role for marine protected areas in sustaining a regional fishery for barramundi Lates calcarifer in mangrove-dominated estuaries? Evidence from northern Australia, American Fisheries Society Symposium, pp 225–236.
  16. 16 Garrett, RN and Russell, DJ 1982, Premanagement investigations into the barramundi Lates calcarifer (Bloch) in northeast Queensland water: A report to the Fishing Industry Research Committee Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Final report to Commonwealth FIRC, Canberra.
  17. 17 Russel, DJ and Garrett, RN 1985 Early life history of Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in north-eastern Queensland Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 36: 191–201
  18. 18 Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide recreational fishing survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  19. 19 Robins, JB, Halliday, IA, Staunton-Smith, J, Mayer, DG, and Sellin, MJ 2005, Freshwater flow requirements of estuarine fisheries in tropical Australia: a review of the state of knowledge and application of a suggested approach, Marine and Freshwater Research, 56: 343–360.

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