John Dory (2018)

Zeus faber

  • Fay Helidoniotis (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Corey Green (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Jeff Norriss (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Luke Albury (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Geoff Liggins (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Thor Saunders (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)

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

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John Dory inhabits coastal and continental shelf waters around most of Australia. Stocks in south-eastern Australia and the NT are sustainable. The WA stock is classified as negligible.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Northern Territory Northern Territory TRF Sustainable Catch, SAFE
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)
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Stock Structure

John Dory inhabits coastal and continental-shelf waters around most of Australia. The majority of the catch is taken along the eastern and southern coasts, with a small catch reported from the Northern Territory Timor Reef Fishery. The main distribution stretches from Moreton Bay in southern Queensland to Cape Cuvier in Western Australia, with a limited distribution in eastern Bass Strait. John Dory are solitary fish when adult [Stergiou and Fourtouni 1991] and are reported to inhabit depths from 5 m to 360 m. Most of the catch is taken in 50–200 m depth, with over half of the catch is taken at 100–149 m depth [May 1986, Williams 1990 (both cited in Kailola et al. 1993), Staples 1995]. The stock structure of this species off Australia is poorly understood [Staples 1995]. Along the eastern and south eastern coasts, John Dory is considered to constitute a single biological stock for assessment and management purposes.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—South Eastern Australia, and at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Northern Territory.

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Stock Status

Northern Territory

Small catches (< 0.4 t) are reported from the Northern Territory Timor Reef Fishery. Because John Dory are only an incidental catch in this fishery and not caught by recreational fishers due to their offshore distribution, a semi-quantitative sustainable assessment for fishing effects model (SAFE) [Zhou and Griffiths 2008] was used to assess the fishing mortality rate on this species, using data up to 2015. The model results indicated that there is a low risk of John Dory being overfished at current levels of harvest, as there is a very low overlap of the fisheries activity and their assumed distribution in Northern Territory waters. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished; and that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, John Dory in the Northern Territory is classified as a sustainable stock.

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John Dory biology [Staples 1995]
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
John Dory 12–15 years, 500–650 mm TL    3–5 years
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of John Dory
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Fishing methods
Northern Territory
Otter Trawl
Management methods
Method Northern Territory
Catch limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Northern Territory
5 in TRF
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)
Northern Territory
Commercial 440.00kg in TRF
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)

Commonwealth – Commercial (Management Methods/ Catch) Data provided for the Commonwealth align with the Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery for the 2017 calendar 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 the Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters. 

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) Under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are entitled to use prescribed traditional and Non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits. 

New South Wales  Indigenous and Recreational catch estimates of “Negligible” are based on zero catches of John Dory recorded during the “Survey of Recreational Fishing in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, 2013/14” (West et al. 2015)

New South Wales - Indigenous (a) The Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances - for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest themselves; (b) The Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 27 (1d)(3)(9); and (c) In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State's fisheries resources.

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no indigenous catch recorded.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of John Dory - note confidential catch not shown
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  1. AFMA 2017, SESSF Total Allowable Catch recommendations for the 2017–18 fishing year AFMA.
  2. Castillo-Jordán, C 2017, Yield, total mortality values and Tier 3 estimates for selected shelf and slope species in the SESSF 2017. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere for AFMA, Canberra.
  3. Kailola PJ, Williams MJ, Stewart PC, Reichelt R.E, McNee A and Grieve C 1993, Australian Fisheries Resources. Australian Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Canberra.
  4. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  5. Staples D 1995, John Dory 1994, Stock Assessment Report, South East Fishery Assessment Group. Australia Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  6. Stergiou KI, Fourtouni H, 1991 Food habits, ontogenetic diet shifts and selectivity in Zeus faber Linnaeus, 1758. Journal Fish Biology, 39, 589–603.
  7. Sustainability Assessment for Fishing Effects (SAFE): A new quantitative ecological risk assessment method and its application to elasmobranch bycatch in an Australian trawl fishery. Fisheries Research Vol 91 (1): 56–68.
  8. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  9. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Doyle, FA, 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14, Fisheries Final Report Series No. 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Downloadable reports

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