Southern Sand Flathead (2018)

Platycephalus bassensis

  • Paul Hamer (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Bradley Moore (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Jeff Norriss (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)

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Southern Sand Flathead is popular with recreational fishers. It is found in shallow waters around southern Australia. In VIC, two of three stocks are sustainable and one is recovering. The TAS stock is depleting, the SA stock is undefined and the WA stock is negligible.  

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia Negligible
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Stock Structure

Southern Sand Flathead (Platycephalus bassensis) is endemic to Australia and inhabits bays, inlets, estuaries and shallow coastal waters to a depth of around 100 m from the central New South Wales coast, around Tasmania to South Australia and southern Western Australia [Gomon et al. 2008]. There is some evidence of regional sub-populations with differences in physical characteristics, recruitment dynamics and growth rates. Information from tagging, larval sampling and growth rate studies [Brown 1977, Hamer et al. 2010, Hirst et al. 2014], indicate that Southern Sand Flathead in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, comprise a distinct biological stock that has slower growth, and asymptotic length that is 30 per cent smaller than fish from Bass Strait and 20 per cent smaller than fish from south east Tasmania [Hirst et al. 2014, Koopman et al. 2009]. However, biological stock structure has not been studied in detail in other areas and each of the State jurisdictions have different management arrangements for Southern Sand Flathead.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Port Phillip Bay (Victoria); at the management unit level—Corner Inlet and Victoria Other (Victoria); and at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Tasmania, and South Australia.

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Stock Status

Western Australia

Stock status for Western Australia is reported as Negligible due to low catches by this jurisdiction. The species is rare in Western Australia; catch is unknown but very low, possibly zero. This stock has not previously been depleted, is not subject to targeted fishing and the current level of fishing is unlikely to be having a negative impact on the stock.

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Southern Sand Flathead biology [Bani and Moltschaniwskyj 2008, Brown 1977, Jordan 1998, Koopman et al. 2004]

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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Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no Indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no Indigenous catch recorded.

TasmaniaCommercial (Catches) Catches reported for the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery are for the period 1 July to 30 June the following year. The most recent assessment available is for 2016–17

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. The species is subject to a minimum size limit of 320 mm. A bag limit of 20 fish and a possession limit of 30 fish (Sand and Tiger Flathead) is in place for recreational fishers.

Tasmania – Indigenous (Management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous persons 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, Indigenous fishers 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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  1. 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: 555–561.
  2. Brown, IW 1977, Ecology of three sympatric flatheads (Platycephalidae) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. PhD thesis, Monash University, Victoria.
  3. 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.
  4. Conron, S, Hamer, P and Jenkins, G 2016, Western Port Fishery Assessment 2015, Recreational Fishing Grants Program Research Report, Fisheries Victoria, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
  5. Ewing, GP, Lyle, JM and Mapstone, A 2014, Developing a low-cost monitoring regime to assess relative abundance and population characteristics of sand flathead, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  6. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  7. Gomon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R (ed) 2008, Fishes of Australia's southern coast, Sydney: Reed New Holland.
  8. 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.
  9. Hamer, P, Kemp, J and Kent, J 2010, Analysis of existing data on sand flathead larval and juvenile recruitment in Port Phillip Bay, Fisheries Victoria Research Report Series No. 50.
  10. Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 99/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
  11. 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, Recreational Fishing Grant Program Research Report, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
  12. Jordan, AR 1998, The life‐history ecology of Platycephalus bassensis and Nemadactylus macropterus. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.
  13. Koopman, M, Morison, AK and Troynikov, V 2004, Population dynamics and assessment of sand and rock flathead in Victorian waters, Final Report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2000/120, Primary Industries Research Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  14. Koopman, MT, Morrison, AK and Coutin, PC (eds) 2009, Sand Flathead 2000, Fisheries Victoria internal report 10, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  15. MacDonald, CM and Hall, DN 1987, A survey of recreational fishing in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Marine Fisheries Report No. 11, Department of Conservation Forests and Lands.
  16. Moore, B, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2018, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery assessment 2016/17, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  17. Ryan, KL, Morison, AK and Conron, S 2009, Evaluating methods of obtaining total catch estimates for individual Victorian bay and inlet recreational fisheries, Final report, FRDC project 2003/047.
  18. Southern Sand Flathead–Port Phillip Bay stock status indicators update 2018.
  19. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, McGarvey, R, Feenstra, J, Smart, J, Earl, J, Beckmann, C, Drew, M and Matthews, J 2018, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2017, Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1002. 230pp.
  20. Victorian Fisheries Authority, 2017, Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1.

Downloadable reports

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