Yellowtail Kingfish (2020)
Date Published: June 2021
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Yellowtail Kingfish Seriola lalandi is a highly mobile pelagic species of the Family Carangidae found along much of the Australia’s western, southern and eastern coastlines.The species is an iconic recreational fishing target, with variable commercial fishery importance across its range. It also supports a growing finfish aquaculture industry based in South Australia (SA) (Arno Bay and Port Lincoln), New South Wales (NSW) (Pt Stephens) and Western Australia (WA) (Geraldton).
Yellowtail Kingfish tend to either form single-species schools, or combine with Silver Trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex) and Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) (Thunnus maccoyii). They prefer water temperatures of 17‒24 °C. In South Australia, these conditions occur during the warmer months of spring-autumn, yet medium to large fish also aggregate in the northern gulfs during winter – spring. During this period, mobile schools are targeted by the South Australian recreational fishery. Preliminary anecdotal information suggests some medium to large fish are in pre-spawning condition between August and November, however, scientific information is scant.
Both the West Coast and East Coast stocks are sustainable.
Stock Status Overview
|Western Australia||Western Australia||Sustainable||
Catch, indicator species status, risk analysis
Yellowtail Kingfish are a highly mobile pelagic species with a widespread distribution extending throughout temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans [Nugroho et al. 2001]. In Australian waters, the species occurs along the entire southern seaboard of the continent from North Reef in Queensland (23°S) to Trigg Island in Western Australia (32°S) including the east coast of Tasmania, and around Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands [Love and Langenkamp 2003] where they inhabit rocky reefs and adjacent areas in coastal waters to depths of more than 300 m [Stewart and Hughes 2008]. Yellowtail Kingfish are considered a range extending species in south-eastern Australia with their presence increasing concurrent to ocean warming off the east coast of Tasmania [Stuart-Smith et al. 2018, Champion et al. 2018]. Species distribution modelling indicates a poleward shift of 94.4 km/decade in core oceanographic habitat and 108.8 km/decade in the poleward edge of the preferred oceanographic habitat of Yellowtail Kingfish [Champion et al. 2018].
Genetic analyses have shown the population in Western Australia to be genetically distinct from the Yellowtail Kingfish found on the eastern (New South Wales) and southern (Victoria, South Australia) Australian coasts or New Zealand waters [Miller et al. 2011; Green et al 2020]. This is consistent with the results of tagging studies which show bi-directional movements between NSW and SA [Hughes and Stewart 2020] and otolith oxygen stable isotope analysis which suggests seasonal migration between NSW and Victoria [Green et al. 2020]. Growth rates and length/age at maturity for Yellowtail Kingfish from Victoria [Green et al. 2020] are also generally consistent with previous studies from fish collected in NSW [Gillanders et al. 2001, Stewart et al. 2001]. These findings also confirm results from previous analyses that found no evidence of genetic differentiation between New Zealand and New South Wales Yellowtail Kingfish [Smith et al. 1991] and results of tagging studies which show that Yellowtail Kingfish undergo bi-directional movements between Australia and New Zealand [Gillanders et al. 2001, Holdsworth et al. 2016].
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the genetically-determined biological stock level—Eastern Australia and Western Australia.
In Western Australia (WA), Yellowtail Kingfish makes up a very minor component of commercial and recreational catches. Commercially, catches of Yellowtail Kingfish have been less than 2 t for any of the fishery sectors and total commercial catches for all fisheries have been less than 4 t annually since 1999. The 2019 commercial catch was 4.1 t. Boat-based recreational catches of Yellowtail Kingfish have averaged 7 t per year since 2011-12 (7.1 t +/- se 1.7 t in 2017–18) [Ryan et al. 2019]. Shore-based catches are unknown. The WA charter catch for the species was <0.5 t. Yellowtail Kingfish are not targeted to any great extent by any sector and there is no evidence that catches have fluctuated greatly through time as a result of fishing.
In WA, all species of fish are allocated to a suite for monitoring and assessment purposes. Yellowtail Kingfish are part of the large pelagic resource in WA, which uses Spanish Mackerel, Grey Mackerel and Samsonfish as indicator species [Department of Fisheries Western Australia 2011]. As the status of each of these indicator stocks is sustainable, then this implies that the Yellowtail Kingfish stock is also sustainable.
In addition, WA uses a weight of evidence approach for all assessments. In the case of Yellowtail Kingfish the lines of evidence included: low catch, wide catch distribution, low effort levels, low vulnerability (Productivity Susceptibility Assessment) and stock reduction analyses (Catch-MSY ) [Froese et al. 2016], with forward projections which indicate an increasing trend in biomass under current management arrangements. The current risk level for the Yellowtail Kingfish stock was estimated to be “Medium” [DPIRD 2020]. The current status of the Yellowtail Kingfish stock in WA is “Acceptable-Sustainable”, with no new management required.
The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, 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 Western Australia biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.
Yellowtail Kingfish biology [Stewart et al. 2001, Stewart and Hughes 2008]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Yellowtail Kingfish||20+ years, 1900 mm FL||5–10 years, 800–1250 mm FL|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Yellowtail Kingfish
|Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels|
|Rod and reel|
|Rod and reel|
|Recreational||7 t (2017/18)|
Commonwealth – Recreational The Commonwealth Government does not manage recreational fishing. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the states or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under their management regulations.
Commonwealth – Indigenous The Commonwealth Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing (with the exception of the Torres Strait). In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the states or territory immediately adjacent to those waters. In the Torres Strait both commercial and non-commercial Indigenous fishing is managed by the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (Commonwealth), Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland) and the Torres Strait Regional Authority. The PZJA also manages non-Indigenous commercial fishing in the Torres Strait.
Western Australia – Recreational (Catch) Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2017/18 [Ryan et al. 2019]. Shore- based catch (if any) largely unknown.
Western Australia – Recreational (Management methods) Boat-based recreational fishing licence required.
Western Australia – Charter (Catch) The charter catch is an estimate based on numbers of fish caught multiplied by an average weight.
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. 
New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods) https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-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.
Tasmania – Commercial (catch) (a) Catches reported for the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery are for the period 1 July to 30 June the following year. The most recent assessment available is for 2018/19; (b) A combined trip limit of 250 kg (with snapper and striped trumpeter) is in place for commercial scalefish licence and rock lobster licence holders.
Tasmania – Indigenous (Management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous persons engaged in traditional 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. For details, see the policy document "Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities” (https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Policy%20for%20Aboriginal%20tags%20and%20alloting%20an%20UIC.pdf).
Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) The species is subject to a minimum size limit of 450 mm total length. A bag limit of five fish and a possession limit of ten fish is in place for recreational fishers.
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