Southern Sand Flathead (2018)
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Southern Sand Flathead is popular with recreational fishers. It is found in shallow waters around southern Australia. In VIC, two of three stocks are sustainable and one is recovering. The TAS stock is depleting, the SA stock is undefined and the WA stock is negligible.
Stock Status Overview
|Tasmania||Tasmania||SF||Depleting||Catch, length and age composition, CPUE|
- Scalefish Fishery (TAS)
Southern Sand Flathead (Platycephalus bassensis) is endemic to Australia and inhabits bays, inlets, estuaries and shallow coastal waters to a depth of around 100 m from the central New South Wales coast, around Tasmania to South Australia and southern Western Australia [Gomon et al. 2008]. There is some evidence of regional sub-populations with differences in physical characteristics, recruitment dynamics and growth rates. Information from tagging, larval sampling and growth rate studies [Brown 1977, Hamer et al. 2010, Hirst et al. 2014], indicate that Southern Sand Flathead in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, comprise a distinct biological stock that has slower growth, and asymptotic length that is 30 per cent smaller than fish from Bass Strait and 20 per cent smaller than fish from south east Tasmania [Hirst et al. 2014, Koopman et al. 2009]. However, biological stock structure has not been studied in detail in other areas and each of the State jurisdictions have different management arrangements for Southern Sand Flathead.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—Port Phillip Bay (Victoria); at the management unit level—Corner Inlet and Victoria Other (Victoria); and at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Tasmania, and South Australia.
In Tasmanian waters, Southern Sand Flathead are mainly landed commercially by hook and line, with minor catches taken by gillnet and Danish seine. Commercial landings in recent years have been low, with an average annual catch of 5.91 t over the past five years. The commercial catch of Southern Sand Flathead in State waters was 6.41 t in 2017 [Moore et al. 2018]. In contrast, Southern Sand Flathead dominates the recreational fishery in terms of overall catch numbers and weight, with an estimated 205 t landed in 2012–13 [87 per cent of the total estimated flathead catch of 236 t; Lyle et al. 2014]. The low commercial catch relative to that taken by the recreational sector means that limited inferences can be made about stock status based on commercial catch and effort data. A fishery-independent survey was therefore implemented using fishing gear and targeting practices typical of recreational fishers in areas of significant effort [Ewing et al. 2014]. This survey has been conducted annually since 2012 and provides data on catch rates, age and size composition of Southern Sand Flathead. The survey indicated relatively low abundances of legal sized fish, particularly in south-eastern Tasmania. Standardised catch rates between 2012 and 2016 declined in all three survey regions. In November 2015, recreational daily bag limits were reduced from 30 to 20 and the minimum size increased from 300 to 320 mm. Early indications suggest these changes may benefit stocks, with increased catch rates observed during the 2017 and 2018 surveys relative to 2015 and 2016, with catch rates in 2017 and 2018 generally approximating or exceeding 2012 baseline levels [Moore et al. 2018, IMAS unpublished data]. However, current levels of fishing mortality remain high, particularly for females with the estimated fishing mortality (F) being 2–3 times higher than natural mortality (M) at all sites surveyed [IMAS unpublished data].
The above evidence indicates that while the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired, the current level of fishing mortality is likely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, Southern Sand Flathead in Tasmania is classified as a depleting stock.
Southern Sand Flathead biology [Bani and Moltschaniwskyj 2008, Brown 1977, Jordan 1998, Koopman et al. 2004]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Southern Sand Flathead||23 years (both sexes) Males 370 mm TL Females 480 mm TL||Males 2.5–3.5 years, 210 mm TL Females 2.6–5.2 years, 235 mm TL|
|Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels|
|Hook and Line|
|Hook and Line|
|Bag and possession limits|
|Bag and possession limits|
|48 in SF|
- Scalefish Fishery (TAS)
|Commercial||6.41t in SF|
|Recreational||209 t (2012–13)|
- Scalefish Fishery (TAS)
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.
Tasmania – Commercial (Catches) 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 2016–17
Tasmania – Recreational (Management 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 320 mm. A bag limit of 20 fish and a possession limit of 30 fish (Sand and Tiger Flathead) is in place for recreational fishers.
Tasmania – Indigenous (Management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous persons engaged in aboriginal 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. Additionally, recreational bag and possession limits also apply, as do size limits. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, Indigenous fishers must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a Unique Identifying Code (UIC) to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC.
- Bani, A and Moltschaniwskyj, NA 2008, Spatio-temporal variability in reproductive ecology of Sand Flathead, Platycephalus bassensis, in three Tasmanian inshore habitats: potential implications for management. Journal of Applied Icthyology ,24: 555–561.
- Brown, IW 1977, Ecology of three sympatric flatheads (Platycephalidae) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. PhD thesis, Monash University, Victoria.
- Conron, S, Green, C, Hamer, P, Giri, K and Hall, K 2016, Corner Inlet-Nooramunga Fishery Assessment 2016, Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 11.
- Conron, S, Hamer, P and Jenkins, G 2016, Western Port Fishery Assessment 2015, Recreational Fishing Grants Program Research Report, Fisheries Victoria, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
- Ewing, GP, Lyle, JM and Mapstone, A 2014, Developing a low-cost monitoring regime to assess relative abundance and population characteristics of sand flathead, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
- Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
- Gomon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R (ed) 2008, Fishes of Australia's southern coast, Sydney: Reed New Holland.
- Hamer, P, Conron, S, Hirst, A and Kemp, J 2016, Sand Flathead Stock Assessment 2015, Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 13, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
- Hamer, P, Kemp, J and Kent, J 2010, Analysis of existing data on sand flathead larval and juvenile recruitment in Port Phillip Bay, Fisheries Victoria Research Report Series No. 50.
- Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 99/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
- Hirst, A, Rees, C, Hamer, PA, Kemp, JE and Conron, SD 2014, The decline of Sand Flathead stocks in Port Phillip Bay: magnitude, causes and future prospects, Recreational Fishing Grant Program Research Report, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
- Jordan, AR 1998, The life‐history ecology of Platycephalus bassensis and Nemadactylus macropterus. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.
- Koopman, M, Morison, AK and Troynikov, V 2004, Population dynamics and assessment of sand and rock flathead in Victorian waters, Final Report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2000/120, Primary Industries Research Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
- Koopman, MT, Morrison, AK and Coutin, PC (eds) 2009, Sand Flathead 2000, Fisheries Victoria internal report 10, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
- MacDonald, CM and Hall, DN 1987, A survey of recreational fishing in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Marine Fisheries Report No. 11, Department of Conservation Forests and Lands.
- Moore, B, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2018, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery assessment 2016/17, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart.
- Ryan, KL, Morison, AK and Conron, S 2009, Evaluating methods of obtaining total catch estimates for individual Victorian bay and inlet recreational fisheries, Final report, FRDC project 2003/047.
- Southern Sand Flathead–Port Phillip Bay stock status indicators update 2018.
- Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, McGarvey, R, Feenstra, J, Smart, J, Earl, J, Beckmann, C, Drew, M and Matthews, J 2018, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2017, Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1002. 230pp.
- Victorian Fisheries Authority, 2017, Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1.