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Black Bream (2020)

Acanthopagrus butcheri

  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Matt Broadhurst (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Jason Earl (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Rodney Duffy (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Nils Krueck (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)

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Summary

Black Bream is a primarily estuarine species found around Australia's southern coastline. Assessments are presented here for nine management units, distributed along the coasts of NSW, VIC, TAS, SA and WA. Of these units, four are classified as sustainable, one as depleting, one as depleted, and three as undefined.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia South Coast Estuaries Sustainable Catch, estimated biomass, harvest rate
Western Australia Western Australia West Coast Estuaries Sustainable Catch
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Stock Structure

Black Bream have a wide distribution in the estuaries of southern Australia from central New South Wales to the central Western Australian coast, including Tasmania [Kailola et al. 1993]. Black Bream are estuarine-dependent, completing much of their life cycle within a single estuary [Chaplin et al. 1997, Conron et al. 2016, Earl et al. 2016]. Genetic studies of Black Bream in Victoria and Western Australia have indicated that, while there has been gene flow between adjacent estuaries, there is evidence of isolation by distance between populations [Chaplin et al. 1997, Farrington et al. 2000, Burridge et al. 2004, Burridge and Versace 2007]. Results of tagging studies conducted in the Swan River [Norriss et al. 2002], Gippsland Lakes [Butcher and Ling 1962, Hindell et al. 2008] and the Coorong estuary [Hall 1984] found limited or no evidence of coastal migration or emigration between estuaries. This indicates that estuarine Black Bream populations should be managed as distinct biological stocks. However, for most fisheries management agencies this is not practical.

Black Bream and the closely related Yellowfin Bream, Acanthopagrus australis, also exhibit considerable levels of hybridisation where their distributions overlaps in south-eastern Australia [Farrington et al. 2000, Roberts et al. 2009, 2010, 2011, Ochwada-Doyle et al. 2012], further complicating status determination. 

Furthermore, Black Bream growth, size- and age-at-maturity and recruitment are strongly influenced by environmental conditions, particularly fresh water influx into estuaries [Norriss et al. 2002, Cottingham 2008]. It is therefore likely that over local scales at least, annual recruitment strength depends on environmental conditions, with substantial inter-annual variation in recruitment affecting individual stock demographics and biomasses. These environmental drivers complicate management across multiple catchments.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Western Australia West Coast Estuaries, Western Australia South Coast Estuaries (Western Australia); Southern New South Wales (New South Wales); Victoria Western Estuaries, The Gippsland Lakes, Victoria Eastern Estuaries (Victoria); Tasmania Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania); Lakes and Coorong Fishery and South Australia Marine Scalefish Fishery (South Australia).

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Stock Status

Western Australia South Coast Estuaries

The Black Bream stock status assessment is currently presented at the management unit level (Western Australia South Coast Estuaries). The current assessment of Black Bream in this management unit is primarily based on estimates of biomass and fishing mortality from a data-limited Catch-Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) assessment model, compared periodically to reference levels relating to estimates of MSY. The estimated biomass expected to achieve MSY (BMSY) is considered as the threshold reference level for the stock, and 50 per cent of BMSY is set as the limit reference level. The target level is considered as any stock levels above BMSY.

Annual commercial catch of Black Bream taken in the South Coast Bioregion since 1976 has been increasing, with occasional large fluctuations between years, particularly noticeable in the early 1990s. The estimated fishing mortality experienced by the stock in 2019 was 0.18 year-1, with very broad 95 per cent confidence levels (CLs) ranging from 0.09 to 0.57 year-1. Acknowledging the uncertainty inherent in Catch-MSY analyses, this point estimate of F is similar to FMSY (0.16 year-1). While not providing immediate cause for concern, the fishing mortality experienced by this stock should be monitored carefully to avoid the potential for depletion to a level at which the risk of recruitment impairment increases.

The point estimate for relative stock biomass in 2019 was at 0.52 of the unfished level (95 per cent CLs = 0.24–0.8). 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 South Coast Estuaries management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

 

Western Australia West Coast Estuaries

The Black Bream stock status assessment is currently presented at the management unit level, the West Coast Bioregion. The current assessment of Black Bream in the West Coast Bioregion  is primarily based on estimates of biomass and fishing mortality from a data-limited Catch-Maximum Sustainable Yield (Catch-MSY) assessment model, compared periodically to reference levels relating to estimates of MSY. The estimated biomass expected to achieve MSY (BMSY) is considered as the threshold reference level for the stock, and 50 per cent of BMSY is set as the limit reference level. The target level is considered as any stock levels above BMSY.

The point estimate for relative stock biomass in 2019 was low at 0.32 of the unfished level (95 per cent CLs = 0.08–0.57, but has recovered from below the limit. As the current value of this performance indicator is below the threshold but above the limit, the stock may be depleted to a level at which there is an increased risk of recruitment impairment, so careful monitoring will be required.

The estimated fishing mortality experienced by the stock in 2019 was 0.11 year[-1], with very broad 95 per cent CLs ranging from 0.07 to 0.73 year[-1]. As the current value of this performance indicator is the same (within uncertainty limits) as the level of FMSY (0.1 year[-1]), the stock is expected to be maintained around BMSY. However, because F is around FMSY, the stock needs to be monitored closely to check that fishing mortality does not increase which might otherwise lead to a stock issue. In summary, while careful monitoring is required, 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, the Western Australia West Coast Estuaries management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Black Bream biology [Kuiter 1993, Sarre and Potter 2000, Walker and Neira 2001, Cheshire et al. 2013]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Black Bream 37 years, 600 mm TL 180–340 TL mm
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Black Bream

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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Gillnet
Beach Seine
Haul Seine
Fish Trap
Recreational
Gillnet
Handline
Indigenous
Unspecified
Handline
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Indigenous
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Possession limit
Size limit
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence (boat-based sector)
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 57.53t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 4 t (2017/18)

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

New South Wales – 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 – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine. The species is subject to a minimum size limit of 250 mm. A bag limit of five individuals and a possession limit of ten individuals is in place for recreational fishers fishing in marine waters.

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. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, Indigenous fishers must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document "Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities” details application procedures for issuing a UIC.

Western Australia – Recreational (Management methods) In Western Australia a recreational fishing licence is only required for fishing from a boat. Black Bream are subjected to a minimum size limit of 250 mm TL and a bag limit of six(of which only two fish may be over 400 mm TL if fishing in the Swan and Canning rivers).

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Black Bream - note confidential catch not shown

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References

  1. Burridge, CP and Versace, VL 2007, Population genetic structuring in Acanthopagrus butcheri (Pisces: Sparidae): does low gene flow among estuaries apply to both sexes? Marine Biotechnology 9, 33–44.
  2. Burridge, CP, Hurt, AC, Farrington, LW, Coutin, PC and Austin, CM 2004, Stepping stone gene flow in an estuarine dwelling sparid from south‐east Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 64, 805–819.
  3. Butcher, AD and Ling, JK 1962, Bream tagging experiments in East Gipsland during April and May 1944. Victorian Naturalist 78, 256–264.
  4. Chaplin, JA, Baudains, GA, Gill, HS, Mccullock, R and Potter, IC1997, Are assemblages of black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) in different estuaries genetically distinct? International Journal of Salt Lake Research, 6(4):303–321.
  5. Cheshire, KJM, Ye, Q, Fredberg, LJ and Earl, J 2013, Aspects of reproductive biology of five key species in the Murray Mouth and Coorong. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2009/000014-3 SARDI Research Report Series No 699. 65pp.
  6. Conron S.D. (2004) Evaluation of recreational management controls of commercially important scalefish species. Final Report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 1998/146. Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Queenscliff.
  7. Conron, S, Giri K, Hall, K and Hamer, P 2016, Gippsland Lakes Fisheries Assessment 2016. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 14, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
  8. Conron, SD and Oliveiro, P 2016, State-wide Angler fishing Diary Program 2011–14 Recreational Fishing Grants Program Research Report June 2016. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Queenscliff. 45 pp.
  9. Conron, SD, Bell, JD, Ingram, BA and Gorfine, HK 2020, Review of key Victorian fish stocks — 2019, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 15, First Edition, November 2020. VFA: Queenscliff. 176pp.
  10. Conron, SD, Grixti D and Morison AK 2010, Survival of snapper and black bream released by recreational hook-and-line fishers in sheltered coastal temperate ecosystems. Final report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 2003/074. Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff, Victoria.
  11. Cottingham, A 2008, The current state of the stock of Black Bream Acanthopagrus butcheri in the Swan-Canning Estuary. Honours Thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
  12. Earl, J, Ward, TM and Ye, Q 2016, Black Bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) Stock Assessment Report 2014/15. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2008/000810-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 885. 44pp.
  13. Farrington, LW, Austin, CM and Coutin, PC 2000, Allozyme variation and stock structure in the black bream, Acanthopagrus butcheri (Munro) (Sparidae) in southern Australia: implications for fisheries management, aquaculture and taxonomic relationship with Acanthopagrus australis (Gunther). Fisheries Management and Ecology 7, 265–279.
  14. Giri, K, Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey. Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  15. Hall, DA 1984, The Coorong: Biology of the major fish species and fluctuations in catch rates 1976–1983, SAFIC 8(1), 3–17.
  16. Hindell, JS, Jenkins, GP and Womersley, B 2008, Habitat utilisation and movement of black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri (Sparidae) in an Australia estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 366, 219–229.
  17. Kailola, PJ, Williams, MJ Stewart, PC, Reichelt, RE, 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).
  18. Kemp J, Brown L, Bridge N and Conron S 2013, Black Bream Stock Assessment 2012. Fisheries Victoria Assessment Report No 42.
  19. Kuiter, RH 1993, ʹCoastal fishes of southeastern Australia.ʹ (University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, Hawaii).
  20. Lyle, JM, Stark KE and Tracey SR 2014, 2012-13 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart.
  21. Lyle, JM, Stark, KE, Ewing, GP and Tracey, SR 2019, 2017-18 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania.
  22. Lyle, JM, Tracey, SR, Stark KE and Wotherspoon, S 2009, 2007–08 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Tasmania Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, Hobart.
  23. 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.
  24. Norriss, JV, Tregonning, JE, Lenanton, RCJ and Sarre, GA, 2002, Biological synopsis of the black bream, Acanthopagrus butcheri (Munro)(Teleostei: Sparidae) in Western Australia with reference to information from other southern states. Fisheries Research Report No.93, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  25. Ochwada-Doyle, F, Roberts, D, Gray, C, Barnes, L, Haddy, J and Fearman, J 2012, Characterizing the biological traits and life history of Acanthopagrus (Sparidae) hybrid complexes: implications for conservation and management. Journal of Fish Biology, 81: 1540–1558.
  26. Roberts, DC, Gray, CA, West RF and Ayre, DJ 2009, Evolutionary impacts of hybridization and interspecific gene flow on an obligately estuarine fish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22: 27–35.
  27. Roberts, DG, Gray, CA, West, RJ and Ayre, DJ 2010, Marine genetic swamping: hybrids replace an obligately estuarine fish. Molecular Ecology, 19: 508–520.
  28. Roberts, DG, Gray, CA, West, RJ and Ayre, DJ 2011, Temooral stability of a hybrid swarm between the migratory marine and estuaries fishes Acnathopagrus australis and A. butcheri, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 421: 199–204
  29. Sarre, GA and Potter, IC 2000, Variation in age compositions and growth rates of Acanthopagrus butcheri (Sparidae) among estuaries: some possible contributing factors. Fishery Bulletin 98, 785–799.
  30. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, Rogers, PJ, Bailleul, F, Earl, J, Matthews, D, Drew, M, and Tsolos, A, 2020, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2018. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1049. 214pp.
  31. Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA), June 2020. Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan 2020. 20 pp.
  32. Walker, S and Neira, F J 2001, Aspects of the reproductive biology and early life history of black bream, Acanthopagrus butcheri (Sparidae), in a brackish lagoon system in southeastern Australia. Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology, 4, 135–142.
  33. Williams, J, Hindell, JS, Swearer, SE and Jenkins GP 2012, Influence of freshwater flows on the distribution of eggs and larvae of black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri within a drought-affected estuary.
  34. Ye, Q, Bucater, L and Short, D, 2018, Coorong fish condition monitoring 2016/17: Black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri), greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) and smallmouthed hardyhead (Atherinosoma microstoma) populations. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2011/000471-6. SARDI Research Report Series No. 979. 89pp.
  35. Ye, Q, Bucater, L, Short, D and Giatas, G 2020, Coorong fish condition monitoring 2008-2019: Black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri), greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) and smallmouthed hardyhead (Atherinosoma microstoma) populations. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2011/000471-7. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1066. 97 pp.

Downloadable reports

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