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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)

Date Published: June 2021

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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
Tasmania Tasmania Depleted

Catch, effort, CPUE trends, age composition

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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

Tasmania

Between 1995 and 2005 commercial catches of Southern Garfish in Tasmanian waters were relatively stable and ranged between 80–100 t per annum. A sharp decline to 31 t in 2007 coincided with a reduction in average size and truncation of older age classes in the catch, which may have resulted from heavy fishing pressure and/or a period of poor recruitment. As a result, seasonal closures were introduced in 2009 to protect spawning fish. By 2012, there was evidence of an increase in the size of Southern Garfish landed, a greater range of age classes present and increasing catch per unit effort, which collectively was interpreted to indicate stock recovery over that period. Catches fluctuated between 40 and 60 t up until 2013 after which they again trended downwards, with 7.4 t taken in 2018–19, the lowest catch on record [Krueck et al. 2020]. Record low catches and catch rates indicate that the stock is likely to be depleted. The vulnerability of this species to overfishing suggests that even the current low levels of fishing pressure may be too high to allow the stock to recover.

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is likely to be depleted and that recruitment is likely to be impaired. The above evidence also indicates that current fishing mortality levels are expected to prevent the stock recovering from a recruitment impaired state.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Tasmania biological stock is classified as a depleted 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
Tasmania
Commercial
Dip Net
Haul Seine
Unspecified
Recreational
Hook and Line
Dab Net
Beach Seine
Management methods
Method Tasmania
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Recreational
Bag limits
Licence
Size limit
Catch
Tasmania
Commercial 7.00t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 0.3 t (in 2017–18 survey)

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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