Blue Morwong (2023)

Nemadactylus valenciennesi

  • Jeffrey Norriss (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Steph Blake (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Katie Cresswell (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Damian Matthews (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Amy Smoothey (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)

Date Published: June 2023

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The biological stock structure of Blue Morwong is unknown, although the its likely lengthy pelagic larval phase suggests considerable potential for individuals from geographically separated areas to mix. Assessments are presented here at the jurisdictional level. Stocks are classified as sustainable in WA, negligible in NSW and SA, and undefined with limited data in TAS and by the Commonwealth.

Photo credit: Chris Dowling.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Commonwealth Commonwealth Undefined


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Stock Structure

Blue Morwong's natural distribution is throughout the southern coastal waters of Australia's mainland. The stock structure is largely unknown. Its family, the Cheilodactylidae, typically have a pelagic larval phase lasting several months, facilitating transport over substantial distances. For Western Australia Coulson et al. [2010] suggested that as juveniles grow, substantial numbers move from the south coast to the lower west coast where they soon mature and spawn. Larvae are then transported south and then eastwards to the south coast, which is a juvenile nursery. Here assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Commonwealth, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. 

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Stock Status


In Commonwealth Waters, Blue Morwong are largely taken in the area of the Great Australian Bight by sectors of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). Commonwealth commercial catch has averaged 20.3 tonnes (t) annually over the last ten financial years (2012–13 to 2021–22). In the 2021–22 financial year, 11.7 t were caught. No formal stock assessment has been conducted for this species in Commonwealth waters, however risk assessments undertaken indicate that the species is at low risk from fishing. Consequently, there is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock. On the basis of the information provided above, the Commonwealth jurisdictional stock is classified as an undefined stock.

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Blue Morwong biology. Blue Morwong from the south of Western Australia reach a maximum age of 24 years, are gonochorists (do not functionally change sex) with onset of sexual maturity at age 3 to 8 years at about 40 to 60 cm FL for females and 50 to 65 cm FL for males, with moderately fast growth (at age 5 years average total length was 55 cm for females and 58 cm for males) [Coulson et al. 2010; Norriss et al. 2016].

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Blue Morwong

24 years, 980 mm total length FL

Females: 3–8 years, 400–600 mm FL. Males 3–7 years, 500–650 mm FL.

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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Blue Morwong.

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Fishing methods
Demersal Longline
Demersal Gillnet
Danish Seine
Otter Trawl
Management methods
Method Commonwealth
Limited entry
Commercial 11.73t

Commonwealth – Commercial (Management Methods/Catch). Data provided for the Commonwealth align with the Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery for the 2021–22 financial year.

Commonwealth – Recreational. The Australian government does not manage recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.

Commonwealth – Indigenous. The Australian government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters.

Tasmania – Commercial (Catch). 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 2021–22.

Tasmania – Recreational (Management Methods). A recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine. A minimum size limit of 250 mm is in place for all Morwong species other than Banded Morwong in Tasmanian waters. A bag limit of 10 fish and a possession limit of 20 fish (all Morwong species other than Banded Morwong) are also in place.

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://fishing.tas.gov.au/Documents/Policy%20for%20Aboriginal%20tags%20and%20alloting%20an%20UIC.pdf). 

Western Australia – Recreational (Management Methods). A Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence is required for use of a powered boat to fish or to transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Blue Morwong - note confidential catch not shown.

Downloadable reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.