Date Published: June 2021
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The stock structure of Hapuku in Australian waters is unknown. Hapuku stock status at the jurisdictional level is sustainable in WA, negligible in QLD and SA, and undefined in NSW and Commonwealth waters.
Stock Status Overview
The stock structure of Hapuku throughout Australian waters is unknown. Life history characteristics similar to Bass Groper (Polyprion americanus) suggest mixing across broad geographic areas [Ball et al. 2000]. However, Beentjes and Francis  inferred the likelihood of separate stocks within New Zealand based on tagging studies of Hapuku, despite recorded movements of up to about 1 400 km. Paul  reported on the stock structure of Hapuku (and Bass Groper) in New Zealand, concluding that stock structure could not be described, and that there was insufficient data describing the life history characteristics to distinguish different stocks. Wakefield et al.  described differences in aged-based demography and reproduction of Hapuku among regions of Western Australia, and likely pan-oceanic mixing of the broader Hapuku population (including Indian Ocean). No such investigations have been done on Hapuku throughout eastern and south eastern Australian waters to develop our understanding of stock structure. It is likely Hapuku in eastern and south eastern Australian waters constitute one or more stocks of a greater population and fisheries within this region access this stock or subset of stocks in support of their annual catches. Panmixia could be expected throughout the region, owing to the extended larval/juvenile phase (years) and large-scale genetic homogeneity of congener P. americanus which has similar life-history traits [Ball et al. 2000, Roberts 1996, Sedberry et al. 1996, Wakefield et al. 2010]. Evidence in support of a single biological stock, or stock structuring within broader Australian waters is limited.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Commonwealth, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
Hapuku reaches its northerly (i.e. warm-water) range limits off southern Queensland [Kailola et al. 1993] and only minor catches have been reported. Hapuku is a line caught species and there is no formal stock assessment in Queensland waters. Historically, the Deep Water Fin Fish Fishery (DWFFF) targeted Hapuku with an average harvest of 4 t between 1997–2002. The average annual catch has since declined below 1 t as overall effort in the fishery has reduced [QFISH 2020]. Current reported catch is incidental harvest in the Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (RRFFF). There has been no recreational harvest of Hapuku reported in Queensland’s recreational fishing surveys [Webley et al. 2015]. It is unlikely that the Queensland line harvest is significantly impacting the overall stock. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted, recruitment is unlikely to be impaired, and the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, Hapuku in Queensland is classified as a sustainable stock.
Hapuku biology [Ball et al. 2000, Paxton et al. 1989, Wakefield et al. 2010]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Hapuku||52 years Females 1 114 mm TL Males 702 mm TL||Females 7.1 years, 760 mm TL Males 6.8 years, 702 mm TL|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Hapuku
|Hook and Line|
|Hook and Line|
Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence is required for use of a powered boat to fish or to transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location.
Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing
New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) - https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing
Commercial catch of Hapuku - note confidential catch not shown
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- AFMA 2015, Ecological risk management: Strategy for the southern and eastern scalefish and shark fishery. Australian Fisheries Management Authority.
- Ball, AO, Sedberry, GR, Zatcoff, MS, Chapman, RW and Carlin, JL 2000, Population structure of the wreckfish Polyprion americanus determined with microsatellite genetic markers. Marine Biology, 137(5-6): 1077–1090.
- Beentjes, MP and Francis MP 1999, Movement of hapuku (Polyprion oxygeneios) determined from tagging studies. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 33(1): 1–12
- Chick, RC and Fowler, AM 2020, Stock status summary – Hapuku 2020. NSW Department of Primary Industries. Fisheries NSW, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute. 15 pp.
- Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and Indigenous fishing survey. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.
- Kailola, PJ, Williams, MJ, Stewart, PC, Reichelt, RE, McNee, A and Grieve, C 1993, Australian fisheries resources. Bureau of resource sciences, department of primary industries and energy. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra, Australia.
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- 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.
- Paul, LR 2002, Can existing data describe the stock structure of the two New Zealand groper species, hapuku (Polyprion oxygeneios) and bass (P. americanus)? New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2002/14. 24p.
- Paxton, JR, Hoese, DF, Allen, GR, and Hanley, JE 1989, Pisces. Petromyzontidae to Carangidae Zoological Catalogue, 7. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia.
- Penney, A, Williams, A and Hobsbawn, P 2018, SESSF Hapuku Stock Status Summary–2018
- QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
- Roberts, CD 1996, Hapuku and bass: the mystery of the missing juveniles. Seafood New Zealand, 4: 17–21.
- Sedberry GR, Andrade CA, Carlin JL, Chapman RW and others 1999, Wreckfish Polyprion americanus in the North Atlantic: fisheries, biology, and management of a widely distributed and long-lived fish. American Fisheries Society Symposium 23, American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland, 27−50.
- Wakefield, CB, Newman, SJ and Molony, BW 2010, Age-based demography and reproduction of hapuku, Polyprion oxygeneios, from the south coast of Western Australia: implications for management. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67(6): 1164–1174.
- Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015. Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government.
- 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 No. 149. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.
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