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Mulloway (2018)

Argyrosomus japonicus

  • Jason Earl (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • David Fairclough (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Jonathan Staunton-Smith (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Julian Hughes (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)

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

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Summary

Mulloway is a widely distributed species in Australian waters. Stock status is sustainable in WA and SA, depleted in NSW and undefined in QLD.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
New South Wales New South Wales EGF, OHF, OTF, OTLF Depleted Catch, CPUE, length/age composition, yield-per-recruit, mortality rates, spawning potential ratio
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
OHF
Ocean Hauling Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (NSW)
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Stock Structure

Mulloway has a wide distribution in Australia, from the Gascoyne region on the west coast of Western Australia, around the southern coasts of the continent, and up to the Wide Bay–Burnett region on the east coast of Queensland [Kailola et al. 1993]. Within this broad distribution, Mulloway occur in nearshore coastal waters (less than 100 m depth) and are often abundant in estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers.

Biological stock structure for Mulloway in Australia is uncertain. It has been suggested that a single panmictic population occurs in Australia [Archangi 2008]. However, regional differences in genetics, and otolith morphology and chemistry suggest sub-structuring between populations in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia [Barnes et al. 2015, Ferguson et al. 2011].

Here, assessment of stock status for Mulloway is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

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Stock Status

New South Wales

Commercial landings of Mulloway in New South Wales steadily declined from almost 400 t in the mid-1970s to a historic low of 37 t in 2008–09, and have been less than 100 t per year since the mid-1990s. In 2016–17, the total State-wide commercial catch was 59 t. No trends are evident in commercial CPUE for the two main fishing methods, estuary mesh netting and ocean line fishing since 2009. The recreational catch for Mulloway was estimated to be 351 t in 2000–01 [Henry and Lyle 2003] and has declined to 103 t in 2013–14 [West et al. 2015]. The annual average lengths of Mulloway landed by the commercial fishery have declined since the mid-1990s, but have been stable since the mid-2000s except for the effect of increasing the legal minimum length in 2013 [Silberschneider and Gray 2005, Silberschneider et al. 2009, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) unpublished data]. The New South Wales commercial Mulloway fishery continues to be based largely on juveniles, and the truncated length composition of fish in commercial landings since the early-2000s is indicative of a heavily fished stock (around 80 per cent of catch is less than 700 mm, the approximate length at maturity for female Mulloway in New South Wales) [Silberschneider and Gray 2005, Silberschneider et al. 2009, NSW DPI unpublished data]. Mulloway in New South Wales are harvested at an average length that is considerably smaller than the length that would produce the maximum yield per recruit (“growth overfished”) [NSW DPI unpublished data]. Fishing mortality has been consistently estimated to be several times greater than natural mortality over the past 10 years [NSW DPI unpublished data]. Since the early-2000s, the spawning potential ratio (SPR) for Mulloway in New South Wales has been consistently estimated to be below the threshold reference point of 20 per cent indicating that there may be a high risk of recruitment failure [Goodyear 1993, Mace and Sissenwine 1993] and is currently estimated to be between seven and 17 per cent [NSW DPI unpublished data]. This SPR estimate (less than 20 per cent virgin level) infers low spawning stock biomass. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the part of the stock that occurs in New South Wales waters is likely to be depleted and that recruitment is likely to be impaired.

In 2013, a recovery program for Mulloway was introduced in New South Wales designed to arrest the decline in commercial and recreational Mulloway fisheries. Management changes to the recreational fishery included an increase in legal minimum length from 450 to 700 mm and a 60 per cent reduction in the daily bag limit. Management changes to the commercial fishery included the above increase in legal minimum length (with bycatch allowances of fish between 450 and 700 mm TL for the estuarine mesh net fishery) and a 500 kg trip limit for the beach-hauling net sector. The above evidence indicates that current fishing mortality is constrained by management to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state; however measurable improvements are yet to be detected.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Mulloway in New South Wales is classified as a depleted stock.

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Biology

Mulloway biology [Farmer 2008, Ferguson et al. 2013, Silberschneider and Gray 2008]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Mulloway 42 years, 2000 mm TL  2–6 years, 510–1070 mm TL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Mulloway
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Tables

Fishing methods
New South Wales
Commercial
Hook and Line
Mesh Net
Haul Seine
Otter Trawl
Unspecified
Indigenous
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Recreational
Spearfishing
Hook and Line
Charter
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method New South Wales
Charter
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Commercial
Bycatch limits
Catch limits
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Bag limits
Native Title
Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Active vessels
New South Wales
199 in EGF, 8 in OHF, 27 in OTF, 66 in OTLF
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
OHF
Ocean Hauling Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (NSW)
Catch
New South Wales
Commercial 51.59t in EGF, 7.11t in OHF, 401.00kg in OTF, 13.27t in OTLF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 103 t (in 2013–14)
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
OHF
Ocean Hauling Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTLF
Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (NSW)

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch totals) Shore based catches are unknown, thus landings are likely to be underestimated.

Western Australia – Indigenous (Management methods) 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.

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

New South Wales – Commercial (Management methods) Fishers using mesh nets in the New South Wales commercial Estuary General Fishery are permitted a bycatch allowance of 10 Mulloway between 450 and 700 mm per day. Fishers using haul nets in the New South Wales commercial Ocean Hauling Fishery are permitted a bycatch allowance of 500 kg of Mulloway per day.

New South Wales – Indigenous (Management methods) (a) Aboriginal fishing interim compliance policy (increased bag limits) - allows an Aboriginal 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;  (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.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Mulloway - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Archangi, B 2008, Levels and patterns of genetic diversity in wild and cultured populations of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) using mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites, PhD thesis, School of Natural Resource Sciences, Queensland University of Technology.
  2. Barnes, TC, Junge, C, Myers, SA, Taylor, MD, Rogers, PJ, Ferguson, GJ, Lieschke, JA, Donnellan, SC and Gillanders, BM 2015, Population structure in a wide-ranging coastal teleost (Argyrosomus japonicus, Sciaenidae) reflects marine biogeography across southern Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 67: 1103–1113.
  3. Earl, J and Ward, TM 2014, Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) stock assessment report 2013–14, report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, publication F2007/000898-3, SARDI research report series 814, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  4. Farmer, BM 2008, Comparisons of the biological and genetic characteristics of the mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus (Sciaenidae) in different regions of Western Australia, PhD thesis, Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, Murdoch University, Perth.
  5. Ferguson, GJ, Ward, TM and Gillanders, BM 2011, Otolith shape and elemental composition: complimentary tools for stock discrimination of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) in southern Australia, Fisheries Research, 110: 75–83.
  6. Ferguson, GJ, Ward, TM, Ivey, A and Barnes, T 2013, Life history of Argyrosomus japonicus, a large sciaenid at the southern part of its global distribution: implications for fisheries management, Fisheries Research, 151: 148–157.
  7. Gaughan, D and Santoro, K 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.
  8. Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian recreational fishing survey 2013–14, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62, Victoria.
  9. Goodyear, CP 1993, Spawning stock biomass per recruit in fisheries management: foundation and current use, in SJ Smith, JJ Hunt and D Rivard (ed.s), Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 120, NRC Research Press, pp 67–81.
  10. Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The national recreational and Indigenous fishing survey, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Fisheries Action Program Project FRDC, project 1999/158, New South Wales Fisheries final report series 48, NSW Fisheries, Cronulla.
  11. Kailola, P, Williams, MJ, Stewart, PC, Reichlet, RE, McNee, A and Grieve, C 1993, Australian fisheries resources, Bureau of Resource Sciences and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra. 
  12. Mace, PM and Sissenwine, MP 1993, How much spawning per recruit is enough?, in SJ Smith, JJ Hunt and D Rivard (ed.s), Risk evaluation and biological reference points for fisheries management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 120, NRC Research Press, pp 101–118.
  13. Mackay, AI 2017, Operational interactions with Threatened, Endangered or Protected Species in South Australian Managed Fisheries. Data summary: 2007/08–2015/16. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  14. 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.
  15. Silberschneider, V and Gray CA 2005, Arresting the decline of the commercial and recreational fisheries for Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2001/027, final report series 82, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla.
  16. Silberschneider, V and Gray, CA 2008, Synopsis of biological, fisheries and aquaculture-related information on mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus (Pisces: Sciaenidae), with particular reference to Australia, Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 24(1): 7–17.
  17. Silberschneider, V, Gray, CA and Stewart, J 2009, Age, growth, maturity and the overfishing of the iconic sciaenid, Argyrosomus japonicus, in south-eastern Australia, Fisheries Research, 95(2–3): 220–229.
  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.
  19. West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle, FA 2015, Survey of recreational fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013–14, Fisheries final report series 149, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongong.