Bluethroat Wrasse (2020)

Notolabrus tetricus

  • Nils Krueck (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Julian Hughes (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)

Date Published: June 2021

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Bluethroat Wrasse are found on rocky reefs around south-eastern Australia. Catches in VIC, TAS and SA are considered to be sustainable. Catches in NSW are considered to be negligible.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
South Australia South Australia Sustainable Catch, effort, catch rates
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Stock Structure

Bluethroat Wrasse are found on rocky reefs around south-eastern Australia, including southern New South Wales, through Victorian and Tasmanian waters, to South Australia [Edgar 1997]. There is currently no information available regarding the biological stock structure of Bluethroat Wrasse in Australian waters. The species has a planktonic larval duration ranging from 44 to 66 days [Welsford 2003]. Once settled, Bluethroat Wrasse show a high degree of site fidelity [Edgar et al. 2004], suggesting that despite the potential for extensive dispersal of larvae by ocean currents exploited populations in each jurisdiction could represent different stocks. Thus, conservatively, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status

South Australia

In South Australia, the Bluethroat Wrasse (Notolabrus tetricus) is considered a tertiary species of South Australia’s commercial multi-species, multi-gear and multi-sectoral Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF). The species is also taken by recreational fishers. For the commercial sector, there is a small targeted fishery for which the captured fish are sold either as fresh, ice-slurried product or for the live fish market [Steer et al. 2020]. In both sectors, they are also taken as by-product when other, more valuable species are targeted. For the commercial sector, numerous species of wrasse are reported under the single species name of Bluethroat Wrasse. Since the Bluethroat Wrasse is the largest and most abundant species, it is likely that it has historically dominated the catches.  The most recent assessment for the Bluethroat Wrasse considered data up to December 2018 [Steer et al. 2020]. 

The primary indicators of biomass and fishing mortality for the Bluethroat Wrasse are from the commercial fishery statistics, which include time series of estimates of  total catch, total line fishing effort and total line catches rates [Steer et al. 2020].  Between 1997 and 2011, commercial annual catches were generally consistent at >20 t per year.  However, since 2011, total catches have declined.  This has corresponded to a general decline in both handline and longline fishing effort.  Through this period, the annual catch rates remained relatively stable at the medium level of around 20 kg fisherday-1.  However, in 2018, there were considerable declines in total catch to 8 t and average catch rate to 13.5 kg fisherday-1.  Whilst these values were both considerably lower than the values indicated above for the period of 1997 to 2011, they still remained higher than the low levels recorded during the 1980s and early  1990s.  As such, no trigger reference points were breached that related to catch and catch rate (Steer et al. 2020).  The downturns in 2018 for total catch and catch rate are not yet sufficient to indicate that the biomass of this stock is depleted and that recruitment has become impaired.  As such, there is not sufficient evidence that a change in stock status is warranted.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Bluethroat Wrasse in South Australia is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Bluethroat Wrasse biology [May and Maxwell 1986, Barrett 1995, Smith et al., 2003]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Bluethroat Wrasse

11 years, 400 mm TL 

8 years, 300 mm TL

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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Bluethroat Wrasse

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Fishing methods
South Australia
Set longline
Management methods
Method South Australia
Limited entry
Size limit
Bag limits
Size limit
Bag limits
Size limit
South Australia
Commercial 6.57t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown

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


New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods)  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 – 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 – Commercial (catch) A trip limit of 30 kg for landed dead Wrasse is in place unless fishers hold a Wrasse licence.


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 300 mm is in place for all Wrasse species in Tasmanian waters. A bag limit of five fish and a possession limit of ten fish (all Wrasse species) 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 Bluethroat Wrasse - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Barrett, NS 1995, Aspects of the biology and ecology of six temperate reef fishes (families: Labridae and Monacanthidae). PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.
  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. Edgar, G 1997, Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books, Melbourne.
  4. Edgar, GJ, Barrett, NS and Morton, AJ 2004 Patterns of fish movement on eastern Tasmanian rocky reefs, Environmental Biology of Fishes, 70: 273–284.
  5. Krueck, N, Hartmann, K and Lyle J 2020, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2018/19. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.
  6. Lyle, J M, Stark ,KE, Ewing, GP and Tracey, SR 2019. 2017-18 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania.
  7. Lyle, JM, Stark, KE and Tracey, SR 2014, 2012–13 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart.
  8. May, JL and Maxwell, JGH 1986, Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p.
  9. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes JM, 2020, The Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program. Survey of recreational fishing in 2017–18, Fisheries final report series 158, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.
  10. Smith, DC, Montgomery, I, Sivzkumaran, KP, Krusic Golub K, Smith K and Hodge R 2003, The fisheries biology of Bluethroat Wrasse (Notolabrus tetricus) in Victorian Waters. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 97/128, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Department of Primary Industries, Victoria.
  11. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, Rogers, PJ, Bailleul, F, Earl, J, Matthews, D, Drew, M, Tsolos, A 2020, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2018. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1049. 201 pp.
  12. Stuart-Smith, R. D., N. S. Barrett, C. M. Crawford, S. D. Frusher, D. G. Stevenson, and G. J. Edgar. 2008. Spatial patterns in impacts of fishing on temperate rocky reefs: Are fish abundance and mean size related to proximity to fisher access points? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 365:116–125.
  13. Victorian Fisheries Authority Commercial Fish Production Information Bulletin 2019. Victorian Fisheries Authority, Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia.
  14. Walsh, A. T., Barrett, N., and Hill, N. 2017. Efficacy of baited remote underwater video systems and bait type in the cool-temperature zone for monitoring ‘no-take’ marine reserves. Marine and Freshwater Research 68: 568–580.
  15. Welsford, DC 2003, Early life-history settlement dynamics and growth of the temperate wrasse, Notolabrus furicola (Richardson 1840), on the east coast of Tasmania. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  16. 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.

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