Tailor (2020)

Pomatomus saltatrix

  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • John Stewart (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Rodney Duffy (Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)
  • Simon Conron (Victorian Fisheries Authority)

Date Published: June 2021

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An inshore and estuarine species, Tailor has biologically independent stocks on the east and west coasts of Australia. Both stocks are sustainable. The western stock is found only in WA. The eastern stock is found in QLD, NSW and VIC.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia Sustainable


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Stock Structure

Tailor are a wide ranging species with several separate stocks found in temperate and sub-tropical waters around the world. Genetic evidence indicates that there are two biological stocks of Tailor in Australia, one along the east coast and a second along the west coast [Nurthen et al. 1992]. The Eastern Australian biological stock is distributed from Bundaberg in southern Queensland along the entire New South Wales coast and into eastern Bass Strait in Victoria [Brodie et al. 2018, Miskiewicz et al. 1996]. The Western Australian biological stock is distributed along the western coastline of Australia from Exmouth to Esperance [Lenanton et al. 1996, Smith et al. 2013]. Within each stock, multiple spawning groups may exist that spawn at different times and locations [Miskiewicz et al. 1996, Young et al. 1999, Ward 2003, Schilling et al. 2020]. However, several characteristics, such as the dispersal of pelagic eggs and larvae with prevailing currents, the movement of juveniles into sheltered nearshore or estuarine habitats in northern and southern areas of the species range, and the seasonal migration behaviour of adults, suggest that a genetically homogenous population occurs on each coast [Bade 1977, Brodie et al. 2018, Juanes et al. 1996, Lenanton et al. 1996, Miskiewicz et al. 1996, Ward et al. 2003, Young et al. 1999].

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Western Australia and Eastern Australia.

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Stock Status

Western Australia

The current assessment of tailor is based on estimates of biomass and fishing mortality from a data-limited Catch-MSY assessment model, compared periodically to reference levels relating to estimates of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). The estimated biomass expected to achieve MSY (BMSY) is considered as the Threshold reference level for the stock, and 50 per cent BMSY is set as the limit reference level. The target level is considered as any stock levels above BMSY.

Annual catches of tailor taken in WA since 1976 increased from the start of the time series to around 70 t in 2000. After this, there was a continued decline in catch to the current levels around 10 to 20 t. The estimated fishing mortality experienced by the stock in 2019 was 0.04 year-1, with 95 per cent CLs ranging from 0.03 to 0.13 year-1. As the current value of this performance indicator is below the level of FMSY (0.12 year-1), the stock is unlikely to deplete to a level at which recruitment could be impaired if the current catch level is maintained.

The point estimate for relative stock biomass in 2019 was low at 0.52 of the unfished level (95 per cent CLs = 0.22–0.69). As the current value of this performance indicator is above the threshold, the stock is considered not to be depleted to a level at which recruitment could be impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Western Australia biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Tailor biology [Bade 1977, Juanes et al. 1996, Schilling et al. 2019, Smith et al. 2013, Young et al. 1999]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Tailor 11–13 years, 1200 mm TL  Eastern Australian biological stock:1–2 years, males 290 mm TL, females 310 mm TL Western Australian biological stock: 1–2 years, L50 per cent 320 mm TL
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Tailor
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Fishing methods
Western Australia
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Beach Seine
Haul Seine
Hook and Line
Beach Seine
Traditional apparatus
Rod and reel
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial zoning
Temporal closures
Total allowable effort
Vessel restrictions
Gear restrictions
Size limit
Bag limits
Limited entry (Charter only)
Passenger restrictions (Charter only)
Size limit
Spatial zoning (Charter only)
Temporal closures
Western Australia
Commercial 20.18t
Charter < 0.5 t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 4 t (2017–18)

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch) Current shore-based recreational catch and effort in Western Australia is unknown. Boat-based recreational catch estimated in 2015–16 [Ryan et al. 2017]

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

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.

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 Tailor - note confidential catch not shown
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  2. Bade, TM 1977, The biology of tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix) from the east coast of Australia, University of Queensland, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
  3. Broadhurst, MK, Butcher, PA and Cullis, BR 2012, Catch-and-release angling mortality of south-eastern Australian Pomatomus saltatrix, African Journal of Marine Science, 34, 289–295.
  4. Brodie, S, Litherland, L, Stewart, J, Schilling, HT, Pepperell, JG and Suthers, IM 2018, Citizen science records describe the distribution and migratory behaviour of a piscivorous predator, Pomatomus saltatrix, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75, 1573–1582.
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  14. Juanes, F, Hare, JA, and Miskiewicz, AG 1996, Comparing early life history strategies of Pomatomus saltatrix: a global approach Marine and Freshwater Research 47, 365–79.
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  17. Litherland, L, Hall, K, Stewart, J and Smith, K 2018, Tailor Pomatomus saltatrix, in Carolyn Stewardson, James Andrews, Crispian Ashby, Malcolm Haddon, Klaas Hartmann, Patrick Hone, Peter Horvat, Stephen Mayfield, Anthony Roelofs, Keith Sainsbury, Thor Saunders, John Stewart, Simon Nicol and Brent Wise (eds) 2018, Status of Australian fish stocks reports 2018, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.
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  23. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
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  25. Schilling, H. T. (2019). Ecology of tailor, Pomatomus saltatrix, in eastern Australia. PhD thesis, University of New South Wales.
  26. Schilling, HT, Everett, JD, Smith, JA, Stewart, J, Hughes, JM, Roughan, M, & Suthers, IM 2020, Multiple spawning events promote increased larval dispersal of a predatory fish in a western boundary current. Fisheries Oceanography.
  27. Schilling, HT, Smith, JA, Stewart, J, Everett, JD, Hughes, JM, & Suthers, IM 2019. Reduced exploitation is associated with an altered sex ratio and larger length at maturity in southwest Pacific (east Australian) Pomatomus saltatrix. Marine environmental research, 147, 72-79.
  28. Schnierer, S 2011, Aboriginal fisheries in New South Wales: determining catch, cultural significance of species and traditional fishing knowledge needs, FRDC PROJECT NO. 2009/038, Canberra.
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  33. Ward, TM, Staunton-Smith, J, Hoyle, S and Halliday, IA 2003, Spawning patterns of four species of predominantly temperate pelagic fishes in the sub-tropical waters of southern Queensland Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 56, 1125–1140.
  34. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
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  37. Wiki Fishing Spots website, 2020, McLoughlins Beach Victoria entry, last accessed 22/03/2021
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