Blue Morwong (2020)

Nemadactylus valenciennesi

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

Date Published: June 2021

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The biological stock structure of Blue Morwong is unknown, although the its 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
New South Wales New South Wales Negligible
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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

New South Wales

Stock status of Blue Morwong in New South Wales is reported as Negligible due to historically low catches in this jurisdiction and the stock has not been subject to targeted commercial fishing and the species is not a major component of recreational landings. Fishing is unlikely to be having a negative impact on the stock.

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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, 98 cm total length

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
New South Wales
Fish Trap
New South Wales
Commercial 856.55kg

New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing

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


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 2018/19.

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

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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.