Ocean Jacket (2020)

Nelusetta ayraud

  • Amy Smoothey (NSW Department of Primary Industries)
  • Nils Krueck (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Timothy Emery (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES))

Date Published: June 2021

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Ocean Jackets are found along the southern half of Australia, with sustainable stocks in NSW, SA and Commonwealth waters. Stocks in VIC are undefined, with limited information available. Stocks are negligible in TAS.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria Undefined Catch
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Stock Structure

Ocean Jackets are distributed along the southern half of Australia from Cape Moreton in Queensland around to North West Cape in Western Australia, including northern Tasmania [Kailola et al 1993]. Throughout their distribution, Ocean Jackets are found in many habitats. As juveniles they are found in estuaries and sheltered bays amongst seagrass beds of Zostera sp. and Posidonia sp. [Grove-Jones and Burnell 1991, Jones and West 2005]. Sub-adults and adults are found in different habitats such as rocky reefs, sandy–mud benthos, or sponge–coralline algae gardens in waters from 2–250 m [Grove-Jones and Burnell 1991, Hutchins 1999], where they are known to aggregate seasonally in large schools.

Little is known about the biological structure of the Ocean Jacket stock. Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Southeast Scalefish and Shark Fishery, Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (Commonwealth); and at the jurisdictional level—New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status


Victoria does not play a significant role in the management of Ocean Jacket which is not differentiated from other species of leatherjacket caught commercially or recreationally. Regardless of the actual species landed, the quantity of leatherjackets reported in Victoria in 2019 was relatively small (17 t) (~3 per cent) in comparison to catches in other jurisdictions, with the majority caught in traps within the Victorian Rock Lobster Fishery and by haul seine and mesh nets within the Corner Inlet Fishery. There is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.

On the basis of the evidence presented above, Ocean Jacket in Victoria is classified as an undefined stock.

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Ocean Jacket biology [Kailola et al. 1993, Miller et al. 2010, Miller and Stewart 2012]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Ocean Jacket ≥ 9 years, 790 mm FL New South Wales 6 years, 656 mm TL New South Wales 2.5 years
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Ocean Jacket
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Fishing methods
Hook and Line
Traps and Pots
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Victoria
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Customary fishing permits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Spatial closures
Commercial 17.48t
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational Unknown

Commonwealth – Commercial (Management Methods/Catch) Data provided for the Commonwealth align with the Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery for the 2018-19 financial year.


Commonwealth – Recreational The Commonwealth 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.


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


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


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.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Ocean Jacket - note confidential catch not shown
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  1. AFMA 2019, Harvest strategy framework for the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery 2009 (amended 2019), Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  2. Burch, P, Althaus, F & Thomson, R 2019, Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) catches and discards for TAC purposes using data until 2018, Prepared for the SERAG Meeting, 3-4 December 2019, Hobart, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania.
  3. Grove-Jones RP, Burnell AF 1991, Fisheries biology of the Ocean Jacket (Monacanthidae: Nelusetta ayraudi) in the eastern waters of the Great Australian Bight. South Australian Department of Fisheries. FIRDC Project DFS01Z, Final report 107 pp.
  4. Hutchins, BJ 1999. Leatherjackets. In Andrew, NL Under southern Seas. The ecology of Australia’s rocky reefs. University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney. pp 195–202.
  5. Jones MV and West, R.J 2005, Spatial and temporal variability of seagrass fishes in intermittently closed and open coastal lakes in southeastern Australia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 64: 277-288.
  6. Jones, MV and West, RJ, 2005, Spatial and temporal variability of seagrass fishes in intermittently closed and open coastal lakes in southeastern Australia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 64, 2–3, 277–288.
  7. Kailola PJ, Williams MJ, Stewart PC, Reichelt RE, McNee A and Grieve C, 1993, Australian Fisheries Resources. Australian Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Canberra.
  8. Knuckey IA and Brown LP 2002. Assessment of bycatch in the Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery, final report to FRDC, report 2000/169, FRDC, Canberra.
  9. Krueck N, Hartmann, K and Lyle J 2020, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2018/19. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.
  10. Miller, ME and Stewart, J 2009, The commercial fishery for ocean leatherjackets (Nelusetta ayraudi, Monacanthidae) in New South Wales, Australia, Asian Fisheries Science, 22: 257–264.
  11. Miller, ME and Stewart, J 2012, Reproductive characteristics of the ocean leatherjacket, Nelusetta ayraudi. Reviews of Fish Biology and Fisheries.
  12. Miller, ME, Stewart, J and West, RJ 2010, Using otoliths to estimate age and growth of a large Australian endemic monocanthid, Nelusetta ayraudi (Quoy and Gaimard, 1824). Environmental Bioliology of Fishes, 88: 263–271
  13. Moore B, Lyle J and Hartmann K 2018, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2016/17. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.
  14. Moore, A, Maloney, L and Mobsby, D 2020, Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector, in H Patterson, J Larcombe, J Woodhams and R Curtotti (ed.s), Fishery status reports 2020, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra https://doi.org/10.25814/5f447487e6749.
  15. Murphy, J.J., Ochwada-Doyle, F.A., West, L.D., Stark, K.E. and Hughes, J.M., 2020, The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
  16. Sporcic M and Haddon, M, 2018, Statistical CPUE Standardizations for selected SESSF species (data to 2017). CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart.
  17. 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.
  18. 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. NSW DPI – Fisheries Final Report Series No. 149.

Downloadable reports

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