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King George Whiting (2018)

Sillaginodes punctatus

  • Paul Hamer (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Kim Smith (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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

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Summary

King George Whiting is a sustainable species found in WA, VIC and SA waters. It is the premium species in SA and attracts the highest price per unit weight for commercial fishers.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia SCEMF, WCDSIMF, WCEMF, WL (SC) Sustainable Catch, age structure
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDSIMF
West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WCEMF
West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
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Stock Structure

Research on King George Whiting stock structure in southern Australia using genetic and otolith chemistry approaches indicates that separate stocks occur in each state jurisdiction (Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia), but with some genetic mixing between Victorian and South Australian populations [Jenkins et al. 2015]. King George Whiting sampled from northern Tasmania appear genetically different from those in the mainland states, although further sampling is required to confirm whether there are separate genetic stocks in Tasmania [Jenkins et al. 2015].

The South Australian population of King George Whiting is thought to be comprised of three biological stocks—Gulf St. Vincent, Spencer Gulf and the West Coast - Eyre Peninsula. This delineation has been determined based on a detailed understanding of the life history, including movement patterns of adult fish, knowledge of the location of spawning grounds and nursery areas [Fowler et al. 2000a, Fowler et al. 2002] and understanding of larval advection pathways and distances based on early life history and hydrodynamic modelling [Fowler et al. 2000b]. The Gulf St. Vincent biological stock occurs throughout Gulf St. Vincent, Investigator Strait and around Kangaroo Island. The Spencer Gulf biological stock occurs throughout the waters of Spencer Gulf and adjacent coastal waters from western Kangaroo Island to the Eyre Peninsula. The West Coast - Eyre Peninsula biological stock extends throughout all the bays and offshore areas of the west coast of Eyre Peninsula.

Further subdivision in biological stock structure is uncertain for Western Australian and Victorian populations. In Western Australia, King George Whiting occurs in the West Coast Bioregion (WCB) and South Coast Bioregion (SCB). Juveniles occur in inshore waters of both bioregions, but adults appear to be restricted to offshore waters of the WCB [Brown et al. 2013, Hyndes et al. 1998, Sulin 2012]. On this basis there is assumed to be a single biological stock in Western Australia, with the spawning component of the stock residing in the WCB. Similarly, there is assumed to be a single biological stock in Victorian waters, with juveniles occurring mostly in bays and estuaries and adults in coastal waters [Jenkins 2015].

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia and Victoria; and at the biological stock level—Spencer Gulf, Gulf St. Vincent and West Coast - Eyre Peninsula (South Australia).

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Stock Status

Western Australia

Recreational fishers take the majority of King George Whiting in Western Australia. The current shore-based recreational catch is unknown, but is likely to be smaller than the boat-based catch [Brown et al. 2013]. The estimated boat-based recreational catch (95 per cent confidence interval catch range) for King George Whiting in Western Australia was 18–36 tonnes (t) in 2011–2012, 13–31 t in 2013–2014 and 10–19 t in 2015/2016 [Ryan et al. 2017]. In those years, the total commercial catch was 15, 14 and 20 t, respectively. In 2017, the total commercial catch was approximately 10 t. Recreational catches are taken in the WCB and SCB, however, the majority (> 90 per cent) of commercial catches are taken in the SCB.

The latest stock assessment of King George Whiting was completed in 2013 [Fisher et al. 2014] based on age structure data collected in 2010–12 in the WCB. Fishing mortality was estimated to be moderate in inshore waters where juveniles occur, but low in offshore waters where adults occur. The spawning potential ratio (SPR), which is used as a proxy for spawning biomass, was estimated to be around the target level of 40 per cent of the unfished level. Total annual catches (commercial plus recreational) have remained at a similar level since 2010–12, which suggests that the stock level is stable. On this basis, current fishing mortality and SPR are assumed to have remained similar and at the target level.

Commercial catch rates are not regarded as reliable indices of abundance due to the multispecies nature of the fisheries that capture King George Whiting, which makes it difficult to quantify targeted effort and species-specific catch rates. However, the commercial catch has followed a stable long-term trend and the current catch is within the historical range, which suggests stable stock availability.

The catch level can fluctuate markedly in response to recruitment variations, with higher recruitment levels being observed during strong Leeuwin Current (La Niña) years. A recruitment-driven peak in commercial catches last occurred in 2015 [Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, unpublished data].

The above evidence indicates that this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Also, the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, King George Whiting in Western Australia is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

King George Whiting biology [Fowler et al. 2000, Hamer et al. 2004, Hyndes et al. 1998, Sulin 2012]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
King George Whiting South Australia 22 years, 590 mm TL Western Australia at least 14 years, 620 mm TL Victoria at least 11 years, 600 mm TL South Australia 3–4 years, 300–350 mm TL Western Australia 3–4 years, 410 mm TL Victoria unknown
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of King George Whiting
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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Dropline
Gillnet
Beach Seine
Haul Seine
Unspecified
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Recreational
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Licence (boat-based sector)
Size limit
Active vessels
Western Australia
19 in Charter, 20 in SCEMF, <3 in WCDSIMF, 6 in WCEMF, 25 in WL (SC)
Charter
Tour Operator (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDSIMF
West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WCEMF
West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 10.16t in SCEMF, WCDSIMF, WCEMF, WL (SC)
Charter 0.108143t in Charter,
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 14 t (2015–16) Boat-based only
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDSIMF
West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WCEMF
West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)

Western Australia – Recreational (Management methods) In Western Australia a recreational fishing licence is only required for fishing from a boat.

Victoria – Recreational (Management methods) Boat limits do not apply in Victoria. In Victoria a recreational fishing licence is required for all forms or recreational fishing, unless exempt.

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 King George Whiting - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Brown, J, Dowling, C, Hesp, A, Smith, K and Molony, B 2013, Status of nearshore finfish stocks in south-western Western Australia. Part 3: Whiting (Sillaginidae), Fisheries Research Report 248, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Fisher, EA, Hesp, SA, Hall, NG and Sulin, EH 2014, Predicting the impacts of shifting recreational fishing effort towards inshore species, Final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2010/001
  5. Fowler, AJ, Black, KP, and Jenkins, GP 2000, Determination of spawning areas and larval advection pathways for King George whiting in south-eastern Australia using otolith microstructure and hydrodynamic modelling II. South Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 199: 243–254.
  6. Fowler, AJ, Jones, GK, McGarvey, R 2002, Characteristics and consequences of movement patterns of King George whiting (Perciformes: Sillaginodes punctata) in South Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 53: 1055–1069.
  7. Fowler, AJ, McGarvey, R, Carroll, J and Feenstra, JE 2014, King George Whiting (Sillaginodes punctatus), Fishery Assessment Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. F2007/000843-4. SARDI Research Report Series No. 801. 85 pp.
  8. Fowler, AJ, McLeay, L, and Short, DA 2000, Spatial variation in size and age structures and reproductive characteristics of the King George whiting (Percoidei: Sillaginidae) in South Australian waters. Marine and Freshwater Research, 51: 11–22.
  9. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
  10. Hamer, P and Giri, K 2016, Port Phillip Bay Commercial Fishery Assessment 2016, Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 9.
  11. Hamer, PA and Jenkins, GP 1996, Larval supply and short-term recruitment of a temperate zone demersal fish, the King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata Cuvier and Valenciennes, to an embayment in south-eastern Australia. Journal of Experimental Biology and Ecology, 208: 197–214.
  12. Hamer, PA, Jenkins, GP and Sivakumaran, KP 2004, Identifying the spawning locations of King George whiting in Victoria: a recreational fishing based study, Fisheries Victoria Assessment Report Series No. 21, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  13. Hyndes, GA, Platell, ME, Potter, IC and Lenanton, RCJ 1998, Age composition, growth, reproductive biology and recruitment of King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata, in south western Australia. Fishery Bulletin U.S., 96: 258–270.
  14. Jenkins, GP 2005, The influence of climate on the fishery recruitment of a temperate, seagrass associated fish, the King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 288: 263–271.
  15. Jenkins, GP and May, HMA 1994, Variation in settlement and larval duration of King George whiting, Sillaginodes punctata (Sillaginidae), in Swan Bay, Victoria, Australia. Bulletin of Marine Science 54: 281–296.
  16. Jenkins, GP, Black, KP and Hamer, PA 2000, Determination of spawning areas and larval advection pathways for King George whiting in south-eastern Australia using otolith microstructure and hydrodynamic modelling, I. Victoria. Marine Ecology Progress Series 199: 231–242.
  17. Jenkins, GP, Hamer, PA, Kent, JA, Kemp, J and Fowler, AJ 2015, Spawning sources, movement patterns, and nursery area replenishment of spawning populations of King George whiting in south-eastern Australia — closing the life history loop, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Final Report, Deakin, Canberra.
  18. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM, and Wise, BS 2017, Statewide survey of boat based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16, Fisheries Research Report No. 287, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia. 205 pp.
  19. 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, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2003/047, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
  20. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, McGarvey, R, Feenstra, J, Westlake, EL, Matthews, D, Drew, M, Rogers, PJ and Earl, J 2018, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2016, Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-1. SARDI Research Report Series No. 974. 250pp.
  21. Sulin, EH 2012, Comparisons of the size and age compositions and growth of King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata) in different regions of south-western Australia. M.Sc. thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
  22. Victorian Fisheries Authority, 2017, Review of key Victorian fish stocks—2017, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 1.