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Southern Garfish (2020)

Hyporhamphus melanochir

  • Jeremy Lyle (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Jonathan Smart (SARDI Aquatic Sciences)
  • Rodney Duffy (Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)

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Summary

Southern Garfish has a wide distribution around Australia. There are ten stocks across WA, SA, TAS and VIC. Six stocks are sustainable, two are depleted and two are recovering.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria Sustainable Catch, effort, CPUE trends
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Stock Structure

Southern Garfish has a wide distribution in Australia, extending from Lancelin in Western Australia, along the southern coast of mainland Australia and up the east coast to Eden in southern New South Wales, as well as the surrounding waters of Tasmania [Gomon et al. 2008].

There has been no research into the stock structure of Western Australian populations of Southern Garfish. However, given the limited dispersal typically displayed by Southern Garfish, and the large spatial separation between the west and south coasts of Western Australia, it is highly likely that the west and south coast support separate biological stocks of this species [Ye et al. 2002, Steer et al. 2009].

In Victoria, there has been no research into the stock structure for populations of Southern Garfish and they are assumed to constitute a single jurisdictional stock.

In Tasmania, differences in size and age composition between the north coast and the east coast indicate that there may be multiple biological stocks; however, no firm evidence exists at present, and current stock assessments assume a single state-wide biological stock [Moore et al. 2018].

A multidisciplinary otolith-based study (otolith chemistry and morphometrics) identified at least five biological stocks in South Australia: West Coast, Northern Spencer Gulf, Southern Spencer Gulf, Northern Gulf St. Vincent and Southern Gulf St. Vincent [Steer et al. 2009]. Given the level of spatial separation of Southern Garfish observed between the gulfs, it was assumed that Southern Garfish from the south east also comprised a separate biological stock.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Western Australia West Coast and Western Australia South Coast; South Australia West Coast (Western Australia); Southern Spencer Gulf, Northern Spencer Gulf, Southern Gulf St. Vincent, Northern Gulf St. Vincent and South East (South Australia); Tasmania; and at the jurisdictional level—Victoria.

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Stock Status

Victoria

An assessment in 2019 concluded that Southern Garfish are predominantly caught by seine in Corner Inlet-Nooramunga (CI) with a switch to more mesh netting in Corner Inlet and a substantial decline in the number of fishers in Port Phillip Bay (PPB) due to buy-outs [Conron et al. 2020]. As a result, landings have declined through time [VFA 2020] and it is also likely that Southern Garfish are now discarded by seine fishers in PPB as they are fishing within a mixed species quota management system and Southern Garfish are less valuable than the main target species. Catches have however, increased over the last two years in Corner Inlet-Nooramunga, due to increased CPUE [Conron et al. 2020].

The status of the stock was evaluated using CPUE from CI for commercial haul seine harvests due to the issues with retention rates in PPB outlined above. The performance of the CPUE biomass proxies were assessed in relation to specified reference level and limit points using a default reference period (1979–2015) and commercial catch and effort data. Recreational fishery catch estimates were not available. CPUE appears to follow a cyclical pattern in which a single year of high catch rate is followed by 2–7 years of low catch rate. This is somewhat surprising given the species has relatively low fecundity and is therefore unlikely to show a boom-and-bust population strategy characteristic of short-lived highly fecund species. Standardisation was useful in eliminating some of the variation around this cycling and indicated that there was a general decline in CPUE from 1978–1996 before a stabilisation around the reference period average that has persisted [Conron et al. 2020].

There has been decreasing fishing effort using gear types to which Southern Garfish are vulnerable. These decreases in effort are probably unrelated to southern garfish abundance, as a relatively stable temporal CPUE trend indicates that the stock is performing adequately, and is unlikely to be recruitment impaired. CPUE trend is stable and the last two years of CPUE are above the reference period average in the main fishery of Corner Inlet-Nooramunga.

The above evidence indicates that the stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, the above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

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

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Biology

Southern Garfish biology [Ye et al. 2002, Smith et al. 2017]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Southern Garfish South Australia: 10 years, 380 mm TL Tasmania: 9.5 years, 460 mm TL. Western Australia: 12 years, 430 mm TL Western Australia: 12 months, 230 mm TL South Australia: 18 months, 190 mm TL Victoria: 19 months, 210 mm TL Tasmania: 22 months, 200 mm TL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Southern Garfish
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Tables

Fishing methods
Victoria
Commercial
Net
Unspecified
Recreational
Hook and Line
Net
Management methods
Method Victoria
Commercial
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Indigenous
Customary fishing permits
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Spatial closures
Catch
Victoria
Commercial 58.80t
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational 21 t (2006–07)

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.

South Australia – Commercial (catch) Data for the Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (South Australia) and the Southern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (South Australia) have been combined because of confidentiality requirements.

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.

Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous people engaged in 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, aborigines 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

Western Australia – Recreational (catch) Current shore-based recreational catch and effort in Western Australia is unknown. State-wide surveys of boat-based fishing are conducted regularly, most recently in 2015/16 [Ryan et al. 2017].

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Southern Garfish - note confidential catch not shown

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References

  1.  Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and indigenous fishing survey, Fisheries Research Development Corporation project 99/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
  2. 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.
  3. Conron, SD, Bell, JD, Ingram, BA and Gorfine, HK 2020, Review of key Victorian fish stocks — 2019, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 15, First Edition, November 2020. VFA: Queenscliff. 176pp.
  4. Giri K and Hall K, 2015 South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey. Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  5. Gomon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R 2008, Fishes of Australia’s southern coast, New Holland Publishers, Australia.
  6. Krueck, N., Hartmann, K., Lyle, J., Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2018/19
  7. Martell, S and Froese, R 2013, A simple method for estimating MSY from catch and resilience. Fish and Fisheries, 14: 504–514.
  8. Moore, BM, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2016, Tasmanian Scalefish Fshery Assessment 2016/17, The Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Tasmania.
  9. Pearce, A, Lenenton, R, Jackson, G, Moore, J, Feng, M and Gaughan, D 2011, The “Marine Heat Wave” off Western Australia during the Summer of 2010/11, Fisheries Research Report 222, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  10. Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017 Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1
  11. Ryan KL, Hall NG, Lai EK, Smallwood CB, Taylor SM and Wise BS 2017. Statewide survey of boatbased recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries Research Report No. 287, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. 205pp.
  12. Smith K, Dowling C, Mountford S, Hesp A, Howard A and Brown J. 2017, Status of southern garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. Research Report No. 271. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.Smith K, Holtz M, Bunbury E, O'Malley J and Yerman M. 2018, West Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Finfish Resource Status Report 2017. In: Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2016/17: State of the Fisheries. eds. Gaughan DJ and Santoro K. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. pp 50–56.
  13. Smith K, Dowling C, Mountford S, Hesp A, Howard A, and Brown J. 2016. Status of southern garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. Fisheries Research Report, No. 271, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia. 139pp.
  14. Smith K, Holtz M, Bunbury E, O'Malley J and Yerman M 2018, West Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Finfish Resource Status Report 2017. In: Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2016/17: State of the Fisheries. eds. Gaughan DJ and Santoro K. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. pp 50–56.
  15. 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. Pp 250. 
  16. Steer, M.A., Fowler, A.J., Rogers, P.J., Bailleul, F., Earl J., Matthews, D., Drew, M. and Tsolos, A. (2020). Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2018. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1049.
  17. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ and Gillanders, BM 2009, Spatial management of Garfish in South Australia – stock structure and adult movement, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2007/029, Canberra.
  18. Ye, Q, Jones, GK, McGlennon, D, Ayvazian, S and Coutin, P 2002, Fisheries Biology and Habitat Ecology of Southern Sea Garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) in Southern Australian Waters, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 1997/133, Canberra.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.

Downloadable reports

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