Bigeye Ocean Perch (2020)

Helicolenus barathri

  • Timothy Emery (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES))
  • Amy Smoothey (NSW Department of Primary Industries)
  • Paul Rogers (South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI))

Date Published: June 2021

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Bigeye Ocean Perch is caught offshore across south-eastern Australia and is sustainable.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Commonwealth South East Australia Sustainable

Catch, CPUE

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Stock Structure

Ocean Perch is managed as a single stock that includes two species: the Reef Ocean Perch (Helicolenus percoides), found at depths 0 - 200m and the Bigeye Ocean Perch (Helicolenus barathri), found at depths 200 - 700m. Ocean Perch stock structure is uncertain, but there is probably an east west structuring of stocks [Morison et al. 2013]. The Reef Ocean Perch and the Bigeye Ocean Perch have been assessed separately since 2009, but a single all-areas TAC is set for the two species. Based on the depth of capture and logbook records, most of the landed Ocean Perch taken in Commonwealth fisheries is considered to be Bigeye Ocean Perch. This assessment focuses on Bigeye Ocean Perch.

Early genetic studies suggests separate stocks of Bigeye Ocean Perch within South East Australia [Paxton and Colgon 1993, Park 1995]. However, the results are not definitive and there is merit in investigating the likelihood of differentiation along a latitudinal gradient [Paxton and Colgon 1993].

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—South East Australia.

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Stock Status

South East Australia

Bigeye Ocean Perch is primarily caught by the Commonwealth managed Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) with small catches from New South Wales. Stock status classification reported here is based on analyses conducted for the Commonwealth fishery.

In the Commonwealth, Bigeye Ocean Perch is managed to a target reference point that aims to maintain the spawning stock biomass at 40 per cent (0.40SB0) of the unfished level (B0).

Bigeye Ocean Perch in the SESSF is managed as a Tier 4 stock under the SESSF Harvest Strategy Framework [AFMA, 2019]. The 2017 Tier 4 analysis [Haddon & Sporcic, 2017] informed the management of the stock for the 2019–20 fishing season.

The most recent Tier 4 analysis for Bigeye Ocean Perch was conducted in 2017. This analysis indicated that the four year average standardised catch per unit effort (2013–16) was above the target reference point. A recommended biological catch (RBC) of 345 tonnes (t) was generated from the 2017 Tier 4 analysis (to apply to the 2018–19 fishing season). The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

The Commonwealth-logbook catch for the 2019–20 fishing season fishing year was 95.4 t (110.1 t in 2018–19 fishing season) [Emery et al. 2020]. Annual landings of Bigeye Ocean Perch by New South Wales State fishers have averaged about 16 t per year (range: 15–21 t) since 2009 [Chick and Johnson 2018] and have averaged 13.98 t between 2017 and 2019. There has been no catch of Bigeye Ocean Perch recorded in South Australian commercial fisheries since at least the 1980s.

Discards from Commonwealth vessels have been estimated to be 39.9 t based on the weighted average of the previous four calendar years (2015 to 2018) [Burch et al., 2019], which when combined with NSW state catch and Commonwealth landings is below the RBC of 345 t calculated from the 2017 analysis [Haddon & Sporcic, 2017]. 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, the South East Australia biological stock for Bigeye Ocean Perch is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Bigeye Ocean Perch biology [AFMA no date, Withell and Wankowski 1988, Kailola et al. 1993]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Bigeye Ocean Perch 47–60 years, 440 mm FL  Females 5 years Males 5–7 years
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Bigeye Ocean Perch
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Fishing methods
Demersal Longline
Pelagic Longline
Danish Seine
Otter Trawl
Management methods
Method Commonwealth
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Total allowable catch
Commercial 166.77t

Commonwealth – Commercial (Management Methods/Catch) 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 – Recreational (Catch) Murphy et al. [2020].

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

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Bigeye Ocean Perch - 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. AFMA: Bigeye Ocean Perch
  3. Biochemical genetics and Stock assessment of Common Gemfish and Ocean Perch. Final Report, FRDC project 91/34. Australian Museum
  4. 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.
  5. Chick, RC and Johnson, D 2018. Stock status summary and supplementary information–Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (Line Fishing-Eastern Zone) – Bigeye Ocean Perch (Helicolenus barathri). NSW Department of Primary Industries, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute: 30pp.
  6. 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.
  7. Haddon, M and Sporcic M, 2017, Tier 4 assessments for selected SESSF species (data to 2016) (data to 2016) CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, 31 October 2017, Prepared for the SE RAG data meeting, 8–10 November 2017, Hobart.
  8. Kailola, PJ, Williams, MJ, Stewart, PC, Reichelt, R.E, McNee, A and Grieve, C, 1993, Australian Fisheries Resources. Australian Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Canberra.
  9. Morison, A, 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 for AFMA, Canberra.
  10. 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.
  11. Park, T 1995, Ocean Perches 1994, Stock Assessment Report, South East Fishery Assessment Group. Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  12. Withell, AF and Wankowski, JW 1988, Estimates of age and growth of ocean perch Helicolenus percoides Richardson, in south-eastern Australian waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39: 441–457.

Downloadable reports

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