Trumpeter Whiting (2020)

Sillago maculata

  • Matt Broadhurst (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

Date Published: June 2021

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Trumpeter Whiting occur along the eastern Australia coastline from northern QLD to southern NSW. The species' biological stock structure is unknown. Trumpeter Whiting is classified as a sustainable stock in NSW and is undefined in QLD.

Photo: Sydney Fish Market

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Queensland Queensland Undefined


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Stock Structure

Trumpeter whiting are distributed along the east coast of Australia from Lizard Island, Queensland to Narooma, New South Wales [Kailola et al., 1993]. The species is most abundant in southern Queensland, and especially Moreton Bay [Maclean 1971, Weng 1983, 1986], but information on biological stock boundaries remains unknown. Separate assessments of Trumpeter Whiting have been done in Queensland and New South Wales [Burchmore et al. 1988, Coull et al. 1995, Melville and Connolly 2003, Kendall and Gray 2009, Krük et al. 2009].


Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Queensland and New South Wales.

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Stock Status


Trumpeter Whiting are found throughout Queensland, mostly in deeper bays, estuaries and mangrove creeks [Maclean 1971, Weng 1983, 1986, Williams 2002]. The species is a minor commercial by-product species and popular with recreational fishers. Commercial harvests have been intermittent since logbook reporting commenced in 1988-89 [QFISH 2020]. Trumpeter Whiting were mainly harvested by prawn trawlers [Williams 2002], with catches peaking at >500 t in the late 1980s [QFISH 2020]. However, management changes to the East Coast Trawl Fishery in 2000 prohibited retaining any whiting species, restricting commercial harvests to incidental net and line catches, and reducing average annual catches to <1 t. Seasonal and spatial closures are also in place to limit the bycatches of Trumpeter Whiting in Moreton Bay. Estimates of recreational harvests since 2000 show decreasing catches with ~50 per cent less Trumpeter Whiting reported during 2019-20 (28 t) than during 2010-11 (56 t) [Teixeira et al. 2021]. Recreational harvests are restricted by a possession limit of 50 fish, although there is no minimum legal size.

There are no sustainability concerns for Trumpeter Whiting, but there is insufficient evidence to confidently classify the status of this stock. On the basis of the evidence provided above, the management unit in Queensland is classified as an undefined stock.






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Trumpeter Whiting biology [Burchmore et al. 1988, Kendall and Gray 2009]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Trumpeter Whiting

Longevity/maximum size: 12 years, 25 cm FL

 Maturity 1–3 years; 14.6 to 19.2 cm FL

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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Trumpeter Whiting

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Fishing methods
Beam Trawl
Hook and Line
Bait Pump
Management methods
Method Queensland
Fishing gear and method restrictions
Limited entry (licensing)
Marine park closures
Seasonal closures
Spatial closures
Marine park closures
Possession limit
Commercial 139.10kg
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 28 t (2019-20)

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing

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

New South Wales – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Trumpeter Whiting - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Burchmore, J.J., Pollard, D.A., Middleton, M.J., Bell, J.D., Pease,B.C. (1988). Biology of four species of whiting (Pisces: Sillaginidae) in Botany Bay, New South Wales. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39, 709–727.
  2. Coull, B.C., Greenwood, J.G., Fielder, D.R. and Coull, B.A. (1995) Subtropical Australian juvenile fish eat meiofauna: experiments with winter whiting Sillago maculata and observations on other species. Marine Ecology Progress Series 125, 13–19.
  3. Gray, C.A, McDonnall, V.C. and Reid, D.D. (1990). Bycatch from prawn trawling in the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales: Species composition, distribution and abundance. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41, 13–26.
  4. Gray, C.A. and Kennelly, S. (2003). Catch characteristics of the commercial beach-seine fisheries in two Australian barrier estuaries. Fisheries Research 63, 405–422.
  5. Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and indigenous fishing survey. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra, Australia. ISSN 1440–3544.
  6. Kailola, P. J., Williams, M.J. Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R. E., McNee, A. and Graive, C. (1993). Australian Fisheries Recourses. Canberra, Australia. Vol. Australian Fisheries Resources pp.18-320 (Bureau of Resource Sciences, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation; Brisbane).
  7. Kendall, B.W. and Gray, C.A. (2009). Reproduction, age and growth of Sillago maculata in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 25, 529–536.
  8. Krück, N.C., Chargulaf, C.A., Saint-Paul, U. and Tibbetts, I. (2009). Early post-settlement habitat and diet shifts and the nursery function of tidepools during Sillago spp. recruitment in Moreton Bay, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 384, 207–219.
  9. Maclean, JL, 1971, The food and feeding of winter whiting (Sillago maculata Quoy and Gaimard) in Moreton Bay. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 96, 87–92.
  10. Melville, A.J. and Connolly, R.M. (2003). Spatial analysis of stable isotope data to determine primary sources of nutrition for fish. Oecologia 135, 499–507.
  11. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes, JM 2020, The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
  12. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  13. Teixeira, D, Janes, R, and Webley, J 2021, 2019–20 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey Key Results. Project Report. State of Queensland, Brisbane.
  14. Weng, HT, 1983, Identification, habitats and seasonal occurrence of juvenile whiting (Sillaginidae) in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Journal of Fish Biology, 23(2), 195–200.
  15. Weng, HT, 1986, Spatial and temporal distribution of whiting (Sillaginidae) in Moreton Bay, Queensland. Journal of Fish Biology, 29(6), 755–764.
  16. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Doyle FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14, Fisheries Final Report Series.
  17. Williams, LE 2002, Queensland's fisheries Resources - Current condition and recent trends 1988 - 2000, Department of Primary Industries Queensland., Brisbane.

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