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Mulloway (2020)

Argyrosomus japonicus

  • Jason Earl (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • David Fairclough (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA)
  • Emily Fisher (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA)
  • Julian Hughes (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

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Summary

Mulloway is a widely distributed species in Australian waters. Stock status is sustainable in WA and SA, depleted in NSW and undefined in QLD.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
New South Wales New South Wales Depleted

Catch, Catch rates, Size Composition, Yield-per-recruit, Mortality Rates, Spawning Potential Ratio

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Stock Structure

Mulloway has a wide distribution in Australia, from the Gascoyne region on the west coast of Western Australia, around the southern coasts of the continent, and up to the Wide Bay–Burnett region on the east coast of Queensland [Kailola et al. 1993]. 

Biological stock structure for Mulloway in Australia is uncertain. It has been suggested that a single panmictic population occurs in Australia [Archangi 2008]. However, regional differences in genetics, and otolith morphology and chemistry suggest sub-structuring between populations in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia [Barnes et al. 2015, Ferguson et al. 2011].

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

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Stock Status

New South Wales

Commercial landings of Mulloway in New South Wales steadily declined from almost 400 t in the mid-1970s to a historic low of 37 t in 2008–09, and have been less than 100 t per year since the mid-1990s [Hughes 2020]. In 2019, the total State-wide commercial catch was 48 t. No trends are evident in commercial CPUE for the two main fishing methods, estuary mesh netting and ocean line fishing since 2009 [Hughes 2020].  The most recent estimate of the recreational harvest of Mulloway in NSW was approximately 12 000 fish weighing an estimated 90 t during 2017–18 [Murphy et al. 2020]; greater than the commercial catch (72 t) in the same period [Hughes 2020]. This estimate only encompassed harvest from NSW households within which a long-term (1-3 year) Recreational Fishing Fee licence holder resided (RFL household). Re-analysis of the previous survey done during 2013–14 [West et al. 2015] for all NSW residents, to allow a comparison with the recent survey, produced an estimate of approximately 19 000 Mulloway harvested by RFL households during 2013–14 [Murphy et al. 2020]. In 2000–01 the National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey [Henry and Lyle 2003] estimated recreational harvest by all fishers in NSW waters at approximately 117 000 fish, noting that this estimate was for a species grouping ‘Mulloway/jewfish’ which encompassed related species, including teraglin (Atractoscion atelodus). While these survey results are not directly comparable due to different sampling frames, the two most recent surveys likely represent a decline in recreational harvest through time. The annual average lengths of Mulloway landed by the commercial fishery have declined since the mid-1990s, but have been stable since the mid-2000s except for the effect of increasing the legal minimum length in 2013 [Silberschneider and Gray 2005, Silberschneider et al. 2009, Hughes 2020]. Up until 2016–17, the New South Wales commercial Mulloway fishery was based largely on juveniles, and the truncated length composition of fish in commercial landings since the early-2000s was indicative of a heavily fished stock (around 80 per cent of catch was less than 700 mm, the approximate length at maturity for female Mulloway in New South Wales) [Silberschneider and Gray 2005, Silberschneider et al. 2009, Hughes 2020]. Only since 2015–16 has the average length of Mulloway in the commercial fishery increased to be greater than 700 mm and only since 2017–18 has the proportion of fish in the landed catch < 700 mm fallen below 10% [Hughes 2020].

Fishing mortality has been consistently estimated to be several times greater than natural mortality over the past 10 years [Hughes 2020]. Since the early-2000s, the spawning potential ratio (SPR) for Mulloway in New South Wales has been consistently estimated to be below the threshold reference point of 20 per cent with reasonable probability indicating that there may be a risk of recruitment failure [Goodyear 1993, Mace and Sissenwine 1993]. SPR for Mulloway is currently estimated to be between 10 and 27 per cent [Hughes 2020]. This SPR estimate (less than 20 per cent virgin level with reasonable probability) infers low spawning stock biomass at all plausible estimates of M. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the part of the stock that occurs in New South Wales waters is likely to be depleted and that recruitment is likely to be impaired.

In 2013, a recovery program for Mulloway was introduced in New South Wales designed to arrest the decline in commercial and recreational Mulloway fisheries. Management changes to the recreational fishery included an increase in legal minimum length from 450 to 700 mm and a 60 per cent reduction in the daily bag limit. Management changes to the commercial fishery included the above increase in legal minimum length (with bycatch allowances of fish between 450 and 700 mm TL for the estuarine mesh net fishery) and a 500 kg trip limit for the beach-hauling net sector. In 2018, the recreational bag limit was reduced further to one fish per person and the bycatch allowance for undersized fish in the commercial estuarine mesh net fishery was removed. The above evidence indicates that current fishing mortality is constrained by management to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state; however measurable improvements are yet to be detected.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Mulloway in New South Wales is classified as a depleted stock.

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Biology

Mulloway biology [Farmer 2008, Ferguson et al. 2013, Silberschneider and Gray 2008]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Mulloway 42 years, 2000 mm TL  2–6 years, 510–1070 mm TL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Mulloway
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Tables

Fishing methods
New South Wales
Commercial
Hook and Line
Mesh Net
Haul Seine
Otter Trawl
Various
Fish Trap
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Charter
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method New South Wales
Charter
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Marine park closures
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Commercial
Bycatch limits
Catch limits
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Marine park closures
Size limit
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Customary fishing management arrangements
Marine park closures
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Marine park closures
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Catch
New South Wales
Commercial 47.78t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 12,135 (± 2,744) individuals (90 t) in 2017-18

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch totals) Shore based catches are unknown, thus landings are likely to be underestimated.

Western Australia – Indigenous (Management methods) Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by Indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

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

New South Wales – Commercial (Management methods) Fishers using haul nets in the New South Wales commercial Ocean Hauling Fishery are permitted a bycatch allowance of 500 kg of Mulloway per day.

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 Mulloway - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Archangi, B 2008, Levels and patterns of genetic diversity in wild and cultured populations of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) using mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites, PhD thesis, School of Natural Resource Sciences, Queensland University of Technology.
  2. Barnes, TC, Junge, C, Myers, SA, Taylor, MD, Rogers, PJ, Ferguson, GJ, Lieschke, JA, Donnellan, SC and Gillanders, BM 2015, Population structure in a wide-ranging coastal teleost (Argyrosomus japonicus, Sciaenidae) reflects marine biogeography across southern Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 67: 1103–1113.
  3. Earl, J 2020, Assessment of the South Australian Lakes and Coorong Fishery in 2018/19. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2020/000208-01, SARDI Research Report Series No. 1059. 81pp.
  4. Farmer, BM 2008, Comparisons of the biological and genetic characteristics of the mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus (Sciaenidae) in different regions of Western Australia, PhD thesis, Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, Murdoch University, Perth.
  5. Ferguson, GJ, Ward, TM and Gillanders, BM 2011, Otolith shape and elemental composition: complimentary tools for stock discrimination of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) in southern Australia, Fisheries Research, 110: 75–83.
  6. Ferguson, GJ, Ward, TM, Ivey, A and Barnes, T 2013, Life history of Argyrosomus japonicus, a large sciaenid at the southern part of its global distribution: implications for fisheries management, Fisheries Research, 151: 148–157.
  7. Gaughan, D and Santoro, K 2020, Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2018/19: The State of the Fisheries, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth.
  8. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian recreational fishing survey 2013–14, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62, Victoria.
  9. Goodyear, CP 1993, Spawning stock biomass per recruit in fisheries management: foundation and current use, in SJ Smith, JJ Hunt and D Rivard (ed.s), Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 120, NRC Research Press, pp 67–81.
  10. 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 Project FRDC, project 1999/158, New South Wales Fisheries final report series 48, NSW Fisheries, Cronulla.
  11. Hughes, JM 2020, Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2020 – NSW Stock status summary – Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus).
  12. Kailola, P, Williams, MJ, Stewart, PC, Reichelt, RE, McNee, A and Grieve, C 1993, Australian fisheries resources, Bureau of Resource Sciences and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra. 
  13. Mace, PM and Sissenwine, MP 1993, How much spawning per recruit is enough?, in SJ Smith, JJ Hunt and D Rivard (ed.s), Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 120, NRC Research Press, pp 101–118.
  14. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, Hughes JM, West, LD and Stark, KE 2020, The Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program. Survey of recreational fishing in 2017–18, Fisheries final report series 158, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.
  15. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  16. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Tate, A, Taylor, SM, and Wise, BS 2017, 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.
  17. Silberschneider, V and Gray CA 2005, Arresting the decline of the commercial and recreational fisheries for Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2001/027, final report series 82, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla.
  18. Silberschneider, V and Gray, CA 2008, Synopsis of biological, fisheries and aquaculture-related information on mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus (Pisces: Sciaenidae), with particular reference to Australia, Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 24(1): 7–17.
  19. Silberschneider, V, Gray, CA and Stewart, J 2009, Age, growth, maturity and the overfishing of the iconic sciaenid, Argyrosomus japonicus, in south-eastern Australia, Fisheries Research, 95(2–3): 220–229.
  20. Stewart, J, Hughes, JM, Stanley, C and Fowler, AM 2020, The influence of rainfall on recruitment success and commercial catch for the large sciaenid, Argyrosomus japonicus, in eastern Australia. Marine Environmental Research, 157, 104924.
  21. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide recreational fishing survey 2013–14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  22. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013–14, Fisheries final report series 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.

Downloadable reports

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