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Red Emperor (2018)

Lutjanus sebae

  • Stephen Newman (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Corey Wakefield (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Chad Lunow (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Thor Saunders (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Fabian Trinnie (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Summary

Red Emperor is a sustainable species caught in WA’s North Coast Bioregion. There are smaller catches in the NT and QLD and those stocks are undefined.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Northern Territory Northern Territory CLF, DF, TRF Undefined Catch, trigger reference points
CLF
Coastal Line Fishery (NT)
DF
Demersal Fishery (NT)
TRF
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)
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Stock Structure

Red Emperor is exploited primarily in the North Coast Bioregion of Western Australia [Newman et al. 2018a]. Smaller catches are taken in the Northern Territory and Queensland. Red Emperor is one of the indicator species used to assess the status of the demersal resources in the North Coast Bioregion [Newman et al. 2018b]. Van Herwerden et al. [2009] examined the genetic connectivity of Red Emperor using mitochondrial DNA from samples collected at two locations in Western Australia (Browse Island, Kimberley region; Montebello Islands, Pilbara region) and two locations on the east coast (High Peak Island and Catfish Shoal, East Coast Queensland). The mitochondrial DNA data for Red Emperor did not differ genetically either within or between coasts at the locations examined, suggesting a panmictic population structure with high levels of gene flow among populations. This study indicates that eastern and western Australian populations of Red Emperor form a single inter-breeding genetic stock [van Herwerden et al. 2009] or one biological stock.

The results of van Herwerden et al. [2009] confirm those derived by Johnson et al. [1993] using allozymes for Red Emperor in Western Australian waters. Johnson et al. [1993] examined allozyme samples of Red Emperor from the Lacepede Islands, Bedout island, Lowendal Islands, Ningaloo and Shark Bay. This study reported extensive connectivity and gene flow among populations throughout the sampled range of 1 400 km in Western Australia.

Stephenson et al. [2001] examined stable isotopes in sagittal otolith carbonates of Red Emperor from four locations; Shark Bay (Gascoyne), Ningaloo (Gascoyne), Pilbara and Broome (Kimberley). Significant differences in stable isotope ratios provided evidence that there was limited mixing of adult Red Emperor between three broad zones; Shark Bay (Gascoyne), Pilbara, and Broome (Kimberley), a distance of approximately 1 400 km [Stephenson et al. 2001]. Therefore, these broad locations could be managed separately for the purposes of fishery management, if management arrangements were established in a way that harmonized with the spatial patterns of exploitation. Stephenson et al. [2001] reported partial mixing of Red Emperor from Pilbara west and east sites. The overlap in the multivariate analyses of otolith stable isotope signatures between some sites potentially reflects dispersal by a proportion of juvenile or adult fish. This suggests that, in Western Australia, Red Emperor can be managed as a number of separate management units.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley (Western Australia); Gulf of Carpentaria and East coast (Queensland); and at the jurisdictional level—Northern Territory.

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Stock Status

Northern Territory

Red Emperor comprises around two per cent of the total catch in the Northern Territory offshore snapper fisheries and is managed as part of the ‘group’ species in the Timor Reef and Demersal Fisheries [DPIR 2018]. The performance indicators and trigger points are based on significant changes in species composition of the catch, used to indicate whether significant catch increases warrant further management efforts. Since 1995, catches of Red Emperor have varied between 1.5 and 4.5 per cent of the total annual catch and catches have increased from 20 t in 1995 to 95t in 2017. The trigger point of an increase of more than 15 per cent of the species’ previous year’s catch weight, or of a species becoming dominant relative to other species in the group, was not reached in 2017.

This evidence suggests that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause Red Emperor in the Northern Territory to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired. However, there is insufficient information available on the current biomass to confidently classify the status of this stock.

Based on the evidence provided above, Red Emperor in the Northern Territory is classified as an undefined stock.

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Biology

Red Emperor biology [McPherson et al. 1992, Newman and Dunk 2003, Newman et al. 2000, 2001, 2010, O’Neill et al. 2011, McPherson and Squire 1992, DAF unpublished data 2018]
Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Red Emperor WA: 40–45 years’ 800 mm FL (860 mm TL) East coast Queensland: 22 years, at least 900 mm TL WA: 4–6 years, 430–460 mm FL (460–490 mm TL) East Coast Queensland: 5 years, 542 mm FL for females
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Red Emperor
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Tables

Fishing methods
Northern Territory
Commercial
Hook and Line
Dropline
Otter Trawl
Midwater Trawl
Fish Trap
Recreational
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Northern Territory
Charter
Passenger restrictions
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Total allowable catch
Recreational
Bag and possession limits
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Northern Territory
14 in CLF, 8 in DF, 5 in TRF
CLF
Coastal Line Fishery (NT)
DF
Demersal Fishery (NT)
TRF
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)
Catch
Northern Territory
Commercial 111.00kg in CLF, 62.38t in DF, 31.97t in TRF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 0.6 t
CLF
Coastal Line Fishery (NT)
DF
Demersal Fishery (NT)
TRF
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)

Western Australia Active Vessels data is confidential as there were fewer than three vessels in the Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery, the Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery and the West Coast Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline (Interim) Managed Fishery.

Western Australia – Commercial (management methods) Red Emperor forms part of the combined Total Allowable Commercial Catch for other mixed demersal species in the Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery.

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch) Boat-based recreational catch is from 1 September 2015–31 August 2016. These data are derived from those reported in Ryan et al. 2017.

Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) A Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence is required for the use of a powered boat to fish or to transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location.

Western Australia – Indigenous Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by Indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

Northern Territory — Charter (management methods) In the Northern Territory, charter operators are regulated through the same management methods as the recreational sector, but are subject to additional limits on license and passenger numbers.

Northern Territory – Indigenous (management methods) The Fisheries Act 1988 (NT), specifies that “…without derogating from any other law in force in the Territory, nothing in a provision of this Act or an instrument of a judicial or administrative character made under it limits the right of Aboriginals who have traditionally used the resources of an area of land or water in a traditional manner from continuing to use those resources in that area in that manner”.

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers 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.

Queensland In Queensland, data for the Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery and Deep Water Fin Fish Fishery relates to the 2016–17 financial year. Data for the Gulf of Carpentaria Line Fishery and Gulf of Carpentaria Developmental Fin Fish Trawl Fishery are for the 2017 calendar year.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Red Emperor - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. DPIRD 2017, North Coast demersal scalefish resource harvest strategy 2017–2021. Version 1.0. Fisheries Management Paper No. 285. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 35p.
  2. Gaughan, D.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.). 2018. Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2016/17: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 237p.
  3. Johnson, MS, Hebbert, DR and Moran, MJ 1993, Genetic analysis of populations of north-western Australian fish species. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 44: 673–685.
  4. Leigh, GM and O'Neill, MF 2016, Gulf of Carpentaria Finfish Trawl Fishery: Maximum Sustainable Yield, Agi–Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
  5. McPherson, GR and Squire, L 1992, Age and growth of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef Inter-Reef Fishery, Asian Fisheries Science, 5, 25–36.
  6. McPherson, GR, Squire, L and O'Brien, J 1992, Reproduction of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef Inter-Reef Fishery, Asian Fisheries Science, 5, 15–24.
  7. Newman, SJ and Dunk, IJ 2002, Growth, age validation, mortality, and other population characteristics of the red emperor snapper, Lutjanus sebae (Cuvier, 1828), off the Kimberley coast of North–Western Australia, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science,55 (1): 67–80.
  8. Newman, SJ, Brown, JI, Fairclough, DV, Wise, BS, Bellchambers, LM, Molony, BW, Lenanton, RCJ, Jackson, G, Smith, KA, Gaughan, DJ, Fletcher, WJ, McAuley, RB and Wakefield, CB 2018, A risk assessment and prioritisation approach to the selection of indicator species for the assessment of multi-species, multi-gear, multi-sector fishery resources. Marine Policy, 88: 11–22.
  9. Newman, SJ, Cappo, M and Williams, DMcB 2000, Age, growth, mortality rates and corresponding yield estimates using otoliths of the tropical red snappers, Lutjanus erythropterus, L. malabaricus and L. sebae, from the central Great Barrier Reef. Fisheries Research 48 (1): 1–,14.
  10. Newman, SJ, Moran, MJ and Lenanton, RCJ 2001, Stock assessment of the outer–shelf species in the Kimberley region of tropical Western Australia, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 97/136.
  11. Newman, SJ, Skepper, CL and Wakefield, CB 2010, Age estimation and otolith characteristics of an unusually old, red emperor snapper (Lutjanus sebae) captured off the Kimberley coast of north–western Australia, Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 26 (1): 120–122.
  12. Newman, SJ, Wakefield, C, Skepper, C, Boddington, D, Jones, R and Smith, E 2018, North Coast Demersal Resource Status Report 2017. pp. 127-133. In: Gaughan, D.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.). Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2016/17: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 237p.
  13. Northern Territory Government 2018. Status of Key Northern Territory Fish Stocks Report 2016. Northern Territory Government, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Fishery Report No. 119.
  14. O’Neill, MF, Leigh, GM, Martin, JM, Newman, SJ, Chambers, M, Dichmont, CM and Buckworth, RC 2011, Sustaining productivity of tropical red snappers using new monitoring and reference points, Final Report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Project 2009/037. 104p.
  15. 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, Government of Western Australia, Perth. 
  16. Stephenson, PC, Edmonds, JS, Moran, MJ and Caputi, N 2001, Analysis of stable isotopes to investigate stock structure of red emperor and Rankin cod in northern Western Australia, Journal of Fish Biology, 58: 126–144.
  17. van Herwerden, L, Aspden, WJ, Newman, SJ, Pegg, GG, Briskey, L and Sinclair, W 2009, A comparison of the population genetics of Lethrinus miniatus and Lutjanus sebae from the east and west coasts of Australia: evidence for panmixia and isolation, Fisheries Research, 100 (2): 148–155.
  18. 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.