Pink Ling (2020)

Genypterus blacodes

  • Timothy Emery (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES))
  • Amy Smoothey (NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries Research)

Date Published: June 2021

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Pink Ling is a sustainable species fished around the south-eastern coastline of Australia.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
New South Wales Eastern Sustainable Spawning stock biomass, current and historical fishing mortality
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Stock Structure

Clear and persistent differences in size and age composition and differences in trends in catch rates indicate the existence of different stocks east and west of South Cape, Tasmania (147° east) [Morison et al. 2013]. However, no genetic differences have been identified between these areas [Ward et al. 2001, Emery et al. 2020]. The stocks were previously managed as a single stock, but in 2013 it was agreed that they would be managed separately.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Western and Eastern.

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Stock Status


Eastern Pink Ling is primarily caught by the Commonwealth managed Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) with small catches from New South Wales. The stock status classification reported here is based on stock assessments conducted for the SESSF, which include reported state catches.

In New South Wales, for three years from 1998–99, reported catches of Pink Ling were greater than 40 tonnes (t) per year. Over the following nine years, from 2000–01 to 2008–09, annual catches were < 25 t per year and averaged 16 t per year. Between 2008–09 and 2009–10, the total annual catch increased approximately 30 t to 54.9 t and since 2009–10 annual catches have remained above 40 t per year [Chick 2018]. Since 2015–16 the annual catch of Pink Ling in New South Wales has exceeded 56.9 t per year, with 57 t reported in 2018–19. In New South Wales, Pink Ling are landed almost exclusively in the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (range 40–68 t per year). Catches of Pink Ling outside the commercial fishing sector are likely to have been negligible.

Eastern Pink Ling in the SESSF is managed as a Tier 1 stock under the SESSF Harvest Strategy Framework [AFMA 2019]. The 2018 Tier 1 stock assessment [Cordue 2018] informed the management of the stock for the 2019–20 fishing season.

The 2018 assessment estimated that the spawning stock biomass at the start of 2018 was 30 per cent of the unfished spawning stock biomass (0.30SB0) [Cordue 2018]. This led to a Recommended Biological Catch (RBC) of 260 t for 2019. The eastern biological stock is therefore unlikely to be depleted and recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

Projections of the stock response to various constant-catch scenarios indicated that catches up to 550 t posed a little (<5 per cent) risk to the stock falling below the limit reference point (0.20SB0) by 2028 [Cordue 2018]. The stock is expected to be rebuilt to the target reference point (0.48SB0) with at least a 50 per cent probability in a reasonable timeframe (before 2050) for catches up to 500 t per year [Cordue 2018]. This led to AFMA setting a notional eastern catch limit of 428 t for the eastern stock in the 2019–20 fishing season.

Commonwealth logbook-reported catch for Eastern Pink Ling in the SESSF was 346 t in the 2019–20 fishing season (372.2 t in 2018–19 fishing season) [Emery et al. 2020]. Discards have been estimated to be 22.7 t based on the weighted average of the previous four calendar years (2015 to 2018) [Burch et al. 2019]. When estimated discards are combined with average NSW state catch and Commonwealth logbook catch for 2019–20, the total is below 500 t per year. This level of fishing mortality should allow the eastern biological stock to rebuild to the management target within a reasonable timeframe. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause Eastern Pink Ling to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the eastern biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Pink Ling biology [Morison et al. 1999, Smith and Wayte 2004]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Pink Ling 25–30 years, 1600–1 750 mm TL  7–12 years, 700–1 000 mm TL 
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Pink Ling
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Fishing methods
New South Wales
Hook and Line
Hook and Line
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method New South Wales
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Customary fishing management arrangements
Bag limits
Spatial closures
New South Wales
Commercial 57.00t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown

Commonwealth – Commercial (Management Methods/Catch) Trip limits apply to the Eastern stock. Data provided for the Commonwealth align with the Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery for the 2018-19 financial year.

Commonwealth – Recreational The Commonwealth does not manage recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.  

Commonwealth – Indigenous The Australian government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters.

New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing 

New South Wales – Recreational (Catch) Murphy et al. [2020].

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Pink Ling - note confidential catch not shown
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  1. AFMA 2019, Harvest strategy framework for the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery 2009 (amended 2019), Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  2. Burch, P, Althaus, F & Thomson, R 2019, Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) catches and discards for TAC purposes using data until 2018, Prepared for the SERAG Meeting, 3-4 December 2019, Hobart, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania.
  3. Chick, RC 2018, Stock status summary and supplementary information – Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (Line Fishing – Eastern Zone) – Pink Ling (Genypterus blacodes). NSW Department of Primary Industries, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute: 32pp.
  4. Emery, T, Marton, N, Woodhams, J and Curtotti, R 2020, Commonwealth Trawl and Scalefish Hook sectors, in H Patterson, J Larcombe, J Woodhams and R Curtotti (ed.s), Fishery status reports 2020, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra https://doi.org/10.25814/5f447487e6749.
  5. Morison, AK, Green, CP and Smith, DC 1999, Estimates of mortality of Ling based on historical length and otolith collections from the eastern sector of the SEF, ARF Project 95/95-10.
  6. Morison, AK, Knuckey, IA, Simpfendorfer, CA and Buckworth, RC 2013, South East Scalefish and Shark Fishery: draft 2012 stock assessment summaries for species assessed by GABRAG, ShelfRAG and Slope/DeepRAG, report to AFMA, Canberra.
  7. Murphy, J.J., Ochwada-Doyle, F.A., West, L.D., Stark, K.E. and Hughes, J.M., 2020. The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
  8. Pink Ling stock assessment for 2018. Final Report. Innovative Solutions Ltd (ISL) client report for Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Canberra.
  9. Smith, ADM and Wayte, SW (ed.s) 2004, The South East Fishery 2003, Fishery assessment report compiled by the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Assessment Group, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  10. Ward, RD, Appleyard, SA, Daley, RK and Reilly, A 2001, Population structure of Pink Ling (Genypterus blacodes) from south-eastern Australian waters, inferred from allozyme and microsatellite analyses, Marine and Freshwater Research, 52: 965–973.

Downloadable reports

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