Bluethroat Wrasse (2018)

Notolabrus tetricus

  • Bradley Moore (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Julian Hughes (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Paul Hamer (Victorian Fisheries Authority)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

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Found on rocky reefs around south-eastern Australia, Bluethroat Wrasse stocks are sustainable in VIC, TAS and SA. In NSW the stock is negligible.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria OF, PPBWPF, VRLF, OW Sustainable Catch, effort, catch rates
Ocean Fishery (VIC)
Ocean Wrasse (VIC)
Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay Fishery (VIC)
Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery (VIC)
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Stock Structure

Bluethroat Wrasse are found on rocky reefs around south eastern Australia, including southern New South Wales, through Victorian and Tasmanian waters, to South Australia [Edgar 1997]. There is currently no information available regarding the biological stock structure of Bluethroat Wrasse in Australian waters. The species has a planktonic larval duration ranging from 44 to 66 days [Welsford 2003]. Once settled, Bluethroat Wrasse show a high degree of site fidelity [Edgar et al. 2004], suggesting that the exploited populations in each jurisdiction potentially represent different stocks.

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

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Stock Status


Bluethroat Wrasse are the predominant species harvested by the Victorian Ocean Wrasse (OW) Fishery, primarily to supply the live fish market. Bluethroat Wrasse were historically harvested commercially in Victorian waters under the general Victorian Ocean Fishery (OF) access licence, but in April 2017, a stand-alone transferable Ocean Wrasse licence was created with 22 licences issued. Each licence can be operated throughout the State. Most (i.e. approximately 80–90 per cent) wrasse is now harvested in Victorian waters by the OW fishery using hook and line, although commercial rock lobster fishers who also hold an OW licence can harvest legal sized wrasse that they catch in their pots. Licence holders with entitlements in other Victorian fisheries, and rock lobster fishers without an OW licence, may only take up to eight wrasse (all species) per day.

Recreational harvest of Bluethroat Wrasse is unknown but thought to be low relative to the current and historic commercial harvest. There is some indication of growing interest in recreational targeting of wrasse in Victoria.

Wrasse catches in Victoria were low prior to the 1990s but increased rapidly to approximately 90 t in 1999 as speculative interests in the wrasse fishery grew. While most of the wrasse catch was historically reported as 'unspecified' wrasse, early studies of the developing wrasse fishery, and more recent reporting to species level suggest that most of the catch would have been Bluethroat Wrasse [Smith et al. 2003, VFA unpublished data]. Since the peak harvest in 1999, harvest and effort continually declined until 2010. From 2010, effort by hand line has been relatively stable at approximately 25–30 per cent of the peak effort recorded in 1999 [VFA 2017a]. State-wide commercial harvest has also been stable since 2010, ranging from approximately 21 to 28 t per year. Standardised and nominal catch rates by hand line are the primary biomass indicators considered for three regional zones (East, West and Central) under a trial harvest strategy for this fishery [VFA 2017b]. The trial harvest strategy has limit and trigger reference points set at 20 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, of the average standardised catch rates for the reference period 2004–05 to 2014–15. While showing some short-term variability, the catch rates have been relatively stable since 2010, and the key biomass indicator (3 year averaged standardised catch rate) was above the trigger reference points by 14 per cent, 18 per cent and 30 per cent in the West, East and Central zones respectively for the most recent analysis in 2015–16 [VFA 2017b; VFA unpublished data]. More recent catch rate data (2016–17) have not been standardised as many new operators have entered the fishery after license transferability was introduced, and the standardisation procedures require review for the next assessment.

The major reduction in effort and catch since the late 1990s, and the recent stability of catches and catch rates indicate that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Further, the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Bluethroat Wrasse in Victoria is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Bluethroat Wrasse biology [Barrett 1995, May and Maxwell 1986, Smith et al., 2003]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Bluethroat Wrasse 23 years, 500 mm TL  8 years, 250 mm TL
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Bluethroat Wrasse

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Fishing methods
Hook and Line
Traps and Pots
Management methods
Method Victoria
Fishing gear and method restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Customary fishing permits
Bag limits
Size limit
Spatial closures
Commercial 26.49t in OW
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational Unknown
Ocean Wrasse (VIC)

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.

Tasmania – Commercial (catch) 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 – Commercial (catch) A trip limit of 30 kg for landed dead Wrasse is in place if not the holder of a Wrasse licence.

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. A minimum size limit of 300 mm is in place for all Wrasse species in Tasmanian waters. A bag limit of five fish and a possession limit of ten fish (all Wrasse species) 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. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, Indigenous persons must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a UIC to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Bluethroat Wrasse - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Barrett, NS 1995, Aspects of the biology and ecology of six temperate reef fishes (families: Labridae and Monacanthidae). PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.
  2. Edgar, G 1997, Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books, Melbourne.
  3. Edgar, GJ, Barrett, NS and Morton, AJ 2004 Patterns of fish movement on eastern Tasmanian rocky reefs, Environmental Biology of Fishes, 70: 273–284.
  4. Lyle, JM, Stark, KE and Tracey, SR 2014, 2012–13 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart.
  5. May, JL and Maxwell, JGH 1986, Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p.
  6. Moore, B, Lyle J and Hartmann K 2018, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2016/17. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.
  7. Smith, DC, Montgomery, I, Sivzkumaran, KP, Krusic Golub K, Smith K and Hodge R 2003, The fisheries biology of Bluethroat Wrasse (Notolabrus tetricus) in Victorian Waters. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 97/128, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Department of Primary Industries, Victoria.
  8. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, McGarvey, R, Feenstra, J, Westlake, EL, Matthews, D, Drew ,M, Rogers PJ and Earl J 2018, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2016. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-1. SARDI Research Report Series No. 974. 250 pp.
  9. VFA 2017, Harvest strategy for the Victorian Wrasse (Ocean) Fishery.
  10. VFA 2017, Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017 Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1.
  11. Welsford, DC 2003, Early life-history settlement dynamics and growth of the temperate wrasse, Notolabrus furicola (Richardson 1840), on the east coast of Tasmania. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  12. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013–14, Fisheries final report series 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.

Downloadable reports

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