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Stock Status Overview
|Northern Territory||Barramundi Fishery||BF||Sustainable||Catch, CPUE, Length and age, low harvest rate|
- Barramundi Fishery (NT)
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.
The commercial catch and nominal CPUE have both declined substantially in recent years, primarily due to the below average wet seasons since 2013 in the Northern Territory4. However, CPUE levels are still 22 per cent above the long-term average (1983–2012). Monitored stocks have a healthy length and age distribution with little sign of reduction in the proportion of older age classes, despite abundance surveys showing low levels of recruitment during recent wet seasons4. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of these stocks is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.
Recaptures from tagging programs indicate that the annual harvest rate from all sectors combined is consistently below five per cent and this level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stocks to become recruitment overfished.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Barramundi Fishery (Northern Territory) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.
|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|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Barramundi
|Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels|
|14 in BF|
- Barramundi Fishery (NT)
|Commercial||344.20t in BF|
|Indigenous||110 t (in 2000)|
|Recreational||22 t FTO, 155 t (in 2010)|
- Barramundi Fishery (NT)
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.
Commercial catch of Barramundi
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Welch, D, Gribble, N, and Garrett, R 2002, Assessment of the Barramundi fishery in Queensland–2002. Queensland Department of Primary Industries.
- 6 Healy, T 1992, Gulf of Carpentaria fishery review background paper no. 1 WFMA, Brisbane.
- 7 Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 2016, Queensland stock status assessment workshop 2016, 14–15 June 2016, Brisbane, Queensland, DAFF, Brisbane.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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
Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide recreational fishing survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
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.