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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
South Australia Gulf St. Vincent NZRLF, MSF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, age structure, biomass
South Australia Spencer Gulf NZRLF, MSF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, age structure, biomass
South Australia West Coast - Eyre Peninsula NZRLF, MSF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, age structure, biomass
MSF
Marine Scalefish Fishery (SA)
NZRLF
Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)
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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

Gulf St. Vincent

Commercial catch and effort for the Gulf St Vincent biological stock were considerably higher during the 1990s compared to the 2000s, consistent with a long-term decline in the number of fishers participating in the fishery. In particular, between 2009 and 2013, there were considerable declines in commercial catch and effort [Steer et al. 2018]. Whilst CPUE displayed a long-term increasing trend between 1984 and 2007, the longest period of consistent decline was between 2007 and 2012, during which time CPUE  fell by 25.1 per cent. As such, the estimated biomass from the stock assessment model showed a decline of 11.7 per cent from 2008 to 2012. This was associated with a period of declining recruitment. Based on these fishery performance indicators, the fishery was classified as transitional depleting [Fowler et al. 2014]. Given this classification, a review of management arrangements was undertaken in consultation with industry, recreational fishing groups and the public, which resulted in several changes that were implemented in December 2016: the legal minimum length was increased from 310 to 320 mm total length (TL ); recreational bag and boat limits were reduced; a month-long spatial spawning closure was implemented in Investigator Strait and southern Spencer Gulf.

Since 2012, total catch and effort have been relatively stable, but in 2016 and 2017 CPUE increased by over 20 per cent to be among the highest levels recorded [Steer et al. 2018]. Estimated biomass from the stock assessment model has also stabilised in recent years, reflecting an increasing trend in recruitment [Steer et al. 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is now unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, the above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Gulf St. Vincent (South Australia) biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Spencer Gulf

Throughout the 2000s total catch and effort for the Spencer Gulf biological stock have been low relative to the levels recorded through the 1980s and 1990s [Steer et al. 2018]. The CPUE has also varied cyclically over time but nevertheless demonstrated a long-term increasing trend. However, from 2007 to 2013, catch, effort and CPUE all declined simultaneously [Fowler et al. 2014]. The estimated biomass from the stock assessment model also declined through this period, indicating a significant decline in recruitment. On the basis of these declining fishery performance indicators, this stock was classified as transitional depleting [Fowler et al. 2014]. Given this classification, a review of management arrangements was undertaken in consultation with industry, recreational fishing groups and the public which resulted in several changes that were implemented in December 2016: the legal minimum length was increased from 310 to 320 mm TL; recreational bag and boat limits were reduced; a month-long spatial spawning closure was implemented in Investigator Strait and southern Spencer Gulf.

From 2013 to 2017, there has been a notable improvement in the commercial fishery indicators for this stock. Over this four year period, handline effort increased by 28 per cent, total catch by 41 per cent and handline CPUE by 21 per cent [Steer et al. 2018]. The estimates from the stock assessment model indicated that from 2013 to 2016, there was an upward trend in recruitment that resulted in an 11.3 per cent increase in the fishable biomass [Steer et al. 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is now unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, the above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Spencer Gulf (South Australia) biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

West Coast - Eyre Peninsula

From 2002 to 2013, total catch from the West Coast - Eyre Peninsula biological stock increased by 27.6 per cent, but subsequently dropped by 42.5 per cent in 2017 [Steer et al. 2018]. Handline effort has had a long-term decreasing trend, consistent with a declining number of fishers [Steer et al. 2018]. However, between 2013 and 2017, the rate of decline in effort increased considerably, falling by 35.5 per cent [Steer et al. 2018]. CPUE increased by 53 per cent between 2002 and 2009 and has subsequently remained at around this high level despite the recent declines in catch and effort. Estimates of fishable biomass from the stock assessment model have gradually increased over time, particularly between 1984 and 1999, and again between 2008 and 2016 [Steer et al. 2018]. The general increasing trend in biomass reflects a long-term increasing trend in recruitment and long-term declining fishing effort due to the declining numbers of commercial fishers targeting this stock.

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

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the West Coast - Eyre Peninsula (South Australia) biological stock 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
South Australia
Commercial
Hook and Line
Gillnet
Unspecified
Seine Nets
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method South Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial restrictions
Indigenous
Bag and boat limits
Size limit
Recreational
Bag and boat limits
Size limit
Active vessels
South Australia
219 in MSF, 6 in NZRLF, 1 in SZRLF
MSF
Marine Scalefish Fishery (SA)
NZRLF
Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)
SZRLF
Southern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)
Catch
South Australia
Commercial 244.22t in MSF, NZRLF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 367 t (2013–14)
MSF
Marine Scalefish Fishery (SA)
NZRLF
Northern Zone Rock Lobster Fishery (SA)

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.