Black Bream (2018)
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The estuary-based Black Bream is sustainable in WA, NSW and TAS. In VIC, western and eastern estuary stocks are sustainable, Gippsland Lake stocks are depleting. In SA, marine stocks are sustainable but the Lakes and Coorong Fishery is depleted.
Stock Status Overview
|New South Wales||Southern New South Wales||EGF||Sustainable||Catch, CPUE|
- Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
Black Bream have a wide distribution in the estuaries of southern Australia from central New South Wales to central west coast Western Australia, including Tasmania [Kailola et al. 1993]. Various studies conclude that Black Bream are an estuarine-dependent species, completing much of their life-cycle within a single estuary [Chaplin et al. 1997, Conron et al. 2016, Earl et al. 2016]. Genetic studies of Black Bream in Victoria and Western Australia have indicated that, while there has been gene flow between adjacent estuaries, there is evidence of isolation by distance between populations [Burridge and Versace 2007, Burridge et al. 2004, Chaplin et al. 1997, Farrington et al. 2000].
The distribution of Black Bream in eastern Australia overlaps with the closely related Yellowfin Bream, A. australis, which occur from Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria to northern Queensland. Where both Black Bream and Yellowfin Bream occur in the same area, hybridization is considerable [Farrington et al. 2000, Ochwada-Doyle et al. 2012, Roberts et al. 2009, 2010, 2011].
Results of tagging studies conducted in the Swan River [Norriss et al. 2002], Gippsland Lakes [Butcher and Ling 1962, Hindell et al. 2008] and the Coorong estuary [Hall 1984] indicated limited or no evidence of coastal migration or emigration between estuaries. This indicates that estuarine Black Bream populations should be managed as distinct biological stocks. However, for most fisheries management agencies this is not practical.
Furthermore, Black Bream growth, size- and age-at-maturity and recruitment are strongly influenced by environmental conditions, particularly fresh water influx into estuaries [Cottingham 2008, Norriss et al. 2002]. It is therefore likely that over local scales at least, annual recruitment strength is dependent on environmental conditions, with substantial inter-annual variation in recruitment affecting individual stock demographics and biomasses.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Western Australia West Coast Estuaries, Western Australia South Coast Estuaries (Western Australia); Southern New South Wales (New South Wales); Victoria Western Estuaries, The Gippsland Lakes, Victoria Eastern Estuaries (Victoria); Tasmania Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania); Lakes and Coorong Fishery and South Australia Marine Scalefish Fishery (South Australia).
Southern New South Wales
Black Bream are known to occur in estuaries and coastal lagoons in New South Wales south of ~32o latitude, but there is substantial hybridization with Yellowfin Bream [Ochwada-Doyle et al. 2012, Roberts et al. 2009, 2010, 2011]. Genetic analyses of 688 juvenile fish from five coastal lagoons in southern New South Wales by Roberts et al.  found that 50 per cent were Yellowfin Bream, 45 per cent were Yellowfin/Black Bream hybrids and only 5 per cent were Black Bream. Ochwada-Doyle et al.  observed no differences with hybrids in terms of their growth, population structure or maturity, but excessive introgression has negative implications for the persistence of Black Bream as a species in this region.
Difficulty in visually separating both species of bream and hybrids means that all have been historically amalgamated with Yellowfin Bream for reporting purposes, confounding inter-specific estimates of commercial and recreational catches. Despite such difficulties, since 2009, commercial fishers have recorded Black Bream as a separate species (mostly south of 31o S), where approximately 80 per cent of their catches are landed using meshing and 17 per cent using hauling nets. Estimated total Black Bream catches have remained fairly stable at approximately 20 t each year from 2010 to 2015 but did decrease to 16 t in 2016 and 14 t in 2017, although with a simultaneous reduction in effort, resulting in fairly stable nominal catch rates. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the southern New South Wales stock is unlikely to be depleted, that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired, and 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 Southern New South Wales management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.
Black Bream biology [Cheshire et al. 2013, Kuiter 1993, Morison et al. 1998, Sarre and Potter 2000, Walker and Neira 2001]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Black Bream||37 years, 600 mm TL||180–340 TL mm|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Black Bream
|New South Wales|
|Method||New South Wales|
|Fishing gear and method restrictions|
|Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority|
|In possession limits|
|New South Wales|
|42 in EGF|
- Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
|New South Wales|
|Commercial||13.01t in EGF|
- Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) (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 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; 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.
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 250 mm. A bag limit of five individuals and a possession limit of ten individuals is in place for recreational fishers fishing in marine waters.
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. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, Indigenous persons must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities for issuing a UIC to a person for Aboriginal Fishing activity explains the steps to take in making an application for a UIC.
Western Australia – Recreational (Management methods) In Western Australia a recreational fishing licence is only required for fishing from a boat
Commercial catch of Black Bream - note confidential catch not shown
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