Yellowtail Kingfish (2020)

Seriola lalandi

  • Julian Hughes (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Paul Lewis (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Paul Rogers (SARDI Aquatic Sciences, South Australia)
  • Lee Georgeson (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Sean Tracey (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)

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.

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Stock Status Overview

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

Catch, indicator species status, risk analysis

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Stock Structure

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.

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Stock Status

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.

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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 
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Yellowtail Kingfish

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Fishing methods
Western Australia
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Rod and reel
Rod and reel
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Limited entry
Passenger restrictions
Size limit
Spatial closures
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Bag limits
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Western Australia
Commercial 2.89t
Charter <0.5 t
Indigenous Unknown
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. [2020] 

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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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Yellowtail Kingfish - note confidential catch not shown
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  1. Champion, C., Hobday, A.J., Zhang, X., Pecl, G.T. & Tracey, S.R. (2019). Changing windows of opportunity: past and future climate-driven shifts in temporal persistence of kingfish (Seriola lalandi) oceanographic habitat within south-eastern Australian bioregions. Marine and Freshwater Research, 70(1): 33-42.
  2. Champion, C., Hobday., Tracey, S.R. and Pecl, G.T. (2018). Rapid shifts in distribution and high-latitude persistence of oceanographic habitat revealed using citizen science data from a climate change hotspot. Global Change Biology, 24(11): 5440-5453.
  3. Department of Fisheries Western Australia 2011, Resource Assessment Framework (RAF) for finfish resources in Western Australia. Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 85. Department of Fisheries Western Australia, Perth.
  4. Froese, R, Demirel, N, Coro, G, Kleisner, KM, Winker, H 2017, Estimating fisheries reference points from catch and resilience. Fish and Fisheries, 18: 506–526.
  5. Froese, R., Demirel, N., Winker, H. (2019) Simple User Guide for CMSY+ and BSM (CMSY_2019_9f.R) published online at http://oceanrep.geomar.de/33076/
  6. Gillanders, BM, Ferrell, DJ and Andrew, NL 1999, Size at maturity and seasonal changes in gonad activity of yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi; Carangidae) in New South Wales, Australia, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 33 (3), 457–468
  7. Gillanders, BM, Ferrell, DJ and Andrew, NL 2001, Estimates of movement and life-history parameters of yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi): how useful are data from a cooperative tagging programme? Marine and Freshwater Research, 52: 179–192.
  8. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey. Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  9. Goodyear, CP 1993, Spawning stock biomass per recruit in fisheries management: foundation and current use. pp. 67-81 In S.J. Smith, J.J. Hunt and D. Rivard [eds.]. Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Special Publication 120.
  10. Green, C., Hamer, P, Ingram, B, Silva, C, Strugnell, J, Whitelaw B, 2020. Increasing knowledge of Victoria’s growing recreational yellowtail kingfish fishery. Recreational Fishing Grants Program Research Report, Project No. 14/15/Large/34.
  11. Henry, GW and Lyle JM, 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Fisheries Action Program. Fisheries Final Report Series. Sydney, NSW Fisheries. 48: 188.
  12. Holdsworth, J.C.; Saul, P.J.; Boyle, T.; Sippel, T. (2016). Synthesis of New Zealand gamefish tagging data, 1975 to 2014. New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2016/24. 63 p.
  13. Hughes JM and Stewart, J 2020. Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2020 – NSW Stock status summary – Yellowtail Kingfish (Seriola lalandi).
  14. Jones, K 2009, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey. PIRSA Fisheries, Adelaide, 84 pp. South Australian Fisheries Management Series Paper No 54.
  15. Love G, and Langenkamp D, 2003, Australian aquaculture industry profiles for selected species. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
  16. Lyle, J.M., Stark, K.E., Ewing, G.P. & Tracey, S.R. (2019). 2017-18 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. University of Tasmania, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, 123p.
  17. Mace, PM and MP Sissenwine. 1993, How much spawning per recruit is enough? In S.J. Smith, J.J. Hunt and D. Rivard [eds.] Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management. Canadian Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Special Publications 120:101–118.
  18. Martell, S., Froese, R. (2013) A simple method for estimating MSY from catch and resilience. Fish and Fisheries 14: 504-514.
  19. Miller, PA, Fitch, AJ, Gardner, M, Huston, KS, Mair, G 2011, Genetic population structure of yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) in temperate Australasian waters inferred from microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA, Aquaculture 319: 328–336.
  20. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes JM, 2020, The Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program. Survey of recreational fishing in 2017–18, Fisheries final report series 158, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.
  21. Nugroho E, Ferrell DJ, Smith P and Taniguchi N 2001, Genetic divergence of kingfish from Japan, Australia and New Zealand inferred by microsatellite DNA and mitochondrial DNA control region markers, Fisheries Science, 67: 843–850.
  22. Patterson, H. M. & Swearer, S. E. 2008. Origin of yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi, from Lord Howe Island, Australia, inferred from otolith chemistry, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 42:4, 409-416
  23. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  24. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Tate, A, Taylor, SM, Wise, BS 2019, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2017/18. Fisheries Research Report No. 297. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth.
  25. Smith, A, Pepperell, J, Diplock, JH and Dixon, P 1991, Study suggests NSW Kingfish are one stock, Australian Fisheries, 50(3): 36–38.
  26. Smith, A. K. 1987: Genetic variation in marine teleosts: a review of the literature and genetic variation and dispersal of the yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi, from New South Wales waters. BSc (Hons) thesis, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
  27. Statewide Large Pelagic Scalefish Resource in Western Australia, Resource Assessment Report 19, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA.
  28. Steffe, A.; Murphy, J.; Gordon, G.; Tarlington, B.; Chapman, D. 1996: An assessment of the impact of offshore recreational fishing in New South Wales waters on the management of commercial fisheries. Final Report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. 139 p.
  29. Steffe, AS and Murphy, JJ 2011. Recreational fishing surveys in the Greater Sydney Region. Fisheries Final Report Series
  30. Stewart, J and Hughes, JM 2008, Determining appropriate sizes at harvest for species shared by the commercial trap and recreational fisheries in New South Wales, Fisheries Final Report Series.
  31. Stewart, J, Ferrell, DJ, Van der Walt, B, Johnson, D and Lowry, M 2001, Assessment of length and age composition of commercial kingfish landings, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 1997/126, New South Wales, Fisheries Final Report Series.
  32. Stuart-Smith, J., Pecl, G., Pender, A., Tracey, S., Villanueva, C. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. (2018). Southernmost records of two Seriola species in an Australian ocean-warming hotspot. Marine Biodiversity, 48(3): 1579-1582.
  33. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  34. West LD, Stark KE, Murphy JJ, Lyle JM, Ochwada – Doyle F, 2015, Survey of Recreational Fishing in New south Wales and the ACT, 2013/14, Fisheries Final Report Series.

Downloadable reports

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