Yelloweye Mullet (2020)

Aldrichetta forsteri

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

Date Published: June 2021

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

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Yelloweye Mullet is a nearshore and estuarine species found along southern Australia. Stocks in WA, SA and TAS are sustainable. The VIC stock is recovering.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria Recovering

Catch, CPUE

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Stock Structure

Yelloweye Mullet is widely distributed along the southern coasts of Australia, from Murchison River in Western Australia to the Hunter River in New South Wales, and around Tasmania [Gomon et al. 2008]. Yelloweye Mullet typically occur in schools in nearshore marine waters from the intertidal zone to depths of at least 10 metres, and are often abundant in estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers [Kailola et al. 1993, Connolly 1994].

Biological stock structure for Yelloweye Mullet in Australia is uncertain. It has been suggested that there are two biological stocks—Western and Eastern—based on morphological differences [Thomson 1957, Pellizzari 2001]. However, further studies are required to confidently define biological stock delineation for this species.

Here, assessment of stock status for Yelloweye Mullet is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status


In Victoria, a total of 29.14 t of Yelloweye Mullet was caught in 2019 by commercial fishers operating in Corner Inlet and Port Phillip Bay [Conron et al. 2020]. Annual catches over the last decade have ranged from 28 t to 68 t with a long-term declining trend since peaking in the 1980s. Over the past four years catches have been consistently around 30 t which is about two-thirds or less than annual catches during 2009–2014. Historically, Yelloweye Mullet was regularly targeted by commercial net fishers, but not in recent decades with other higher value species being preferred. Yelloweye Mullet are caught by recreational anglers, but recent catch quantities are unknown. 

Over recent decades, effort using mesh nets and haul seine, the predominant commercial gear used to target Yelloweye Mullet, has declined throughout all Victorian commercial fisheries [Conron et al. 2020], having now ceased in Gippsland Lakes and will also cease in Port Phillip Bay by 2022 following buy-outs of all commercial netting licences, implemented to improve recreational fishing access by hook and line methods. 

In Port Phillip Bay, the majority of Yelloweye Mullet were caught commercially using haul seine nets with the remainder taken using mesh nets [Hamer et al. 2016]. Haul seine and mesh net CPUE peaked during the 1980s and then declined until the early 2000s [VFA 2017], with haul seine CPUE since stabilising and more recently increasing [Conron et al. 2020]. It is currently slightly above the average for 1986–2015 [Conron et al. 2020]. Mesh net CPUE from Port Phillip Bay was not assessed beyond 2016 [VFA 2017] due to the reduction in suitable data available for analysis arising from the progressive phasing out of the commercial net fishery. 

Corner Inlet is now the mainstay of the commercial fishery, the majority of Yelloweye Mullet are caught using haul seine nets with the remainder taken using mesh nets [Conron et al. 2020]. Mesh net CPUE is considered less reliable as a proxy for biomass than haul seine CPUE as the former gear type isn’t typically used to target Yelloweye Mullet. Overall, the CPUE time series are highly variable and have been influenced to an unknown degree by variation in the level of harvest retention and reporting. It is thought that in recent decades, due to their low value, Yelloweye Mullet have often been discarded and therefore the reported CPUE may have been under-estimating abundance, possibly also underestimating fishing mortality to the extent that there is some degree of post-release mortality. Notwithstanding these considerations, haul seine CPUE for Yelloweye Mullet in Corner Inlet has shown an increasing trend over the past decade, rising close to the average for 1986–2015. This trend is occurring in the context of a recently stable reduced level of catch [Conron et al. 2020].

Overall, the above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is likely to have been depleted and that recruitment was impaired. Furthermore, the above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Yelloweye Mullet in Victoria is classified as a recovering stock.

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Yelloweye Mullet biology [Gaughan et al. 2006, Edgar 2008, Earl and Ferguson 2013]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Yelloweye Mullet 10 years, 440 mm TL  2–3 years, 200–260 mm TL 
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Yelloweye Mullet

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Fishing methods
Hook and Line
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Victoria
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Customary fishing permits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Size limit
Spatial closures
Commercial 29.14t
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational Unknown

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 totals) 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 – 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 (Fishing 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. Mullet (all species combined) are subject to a bag limit of 15 individuals and a possession limit of 30 individuals.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Yelloweye Mullet - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Connolly, RM 1994, A comparison of fish assemblages from seagrass and unvegetated areas of a South Australian estuary, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 45: 1033–1044.
  2. 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.
  3. Earl, J and Ferguson, GJ 2013, Yelloweye Mullet (Aldrichetta forsteri) stock assessment report 2011–12, Report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (Fisheries and Aquaculture), SARDI Publication F2007/001048-1, SARDI Research Report Series 737, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  4. 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.
  5. Edgar, GD 2008, Australian marine life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. New Holland Publishers, Sydney.
  6. Gaughan, D, Ayvazian, S, Nowara, G and Craine, M 2006, The development of a rigorous sampling methodology for a long-term annual index of recruitment for finfish species from south-western Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project 1999/153, Fisheries Research Report 154, Western Australia Department of Fisheries, Perth.
  7. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian recreational fishing survey 2013–14, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62, Victoria.
  8. Gomon, MF, Bray, DJ and Kuiter, RH (ed.s) 2008, Fishes of Australia’s southern coast, New Holland Publishers, Sydney.
  9. Hamer, P and Giri K 2016, Port Phillip Bay Commercial Fishery Assessment 2016. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 9.
  10. Kailola, P, Williams, MJ, Stewart, PC, Reichlet, RE, McNee, A and Grieve, C 1993, Australian fisheries resources, Bureau of Resource Sciences and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.
  11. Krueck N, Hartmann, K and Lyle J 2020, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2018/19. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.
  12. 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.
  13. Pellizzari, M 2001, A preliminary investigation of the biology of Yelloweye Mullet in South Australian waters, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  14. Thomson, JM 1957, Interpretation of the scales of the yellow-eye mullet, Aldrichetta forsteri (Cuvier and Valenciennes) (Mugilidae), Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 8: 14–28.
  15. Victorian Fisheries Authority 2017. Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017. Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1.

Downloadable reports

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