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Status of demersal finfish stocks on the west coast of Australia

Fairclough, D.V., Molony, B.W., Crisafulli, B.M., Keay, I.S., Hesp, S.A. and Marriott, R.J. (2014) Status of demersal finfish stocks on the west coast of Australia. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia

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Assessments of the key indicator species for the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (WCDSR; West Australian dhufish Glaucosoma hebraicum, Snapper Pagrus auratus and Baldchin groper Choerodon rubescens) in 2007 and 2009 demonstrated that the stocks were experiencing overfishing. Thus, between late 2007 and early 2010, substantial changes were made to the management of the commercial and recreational fisheries that exploit the WCDSR. These were designed to reduce catches of the entire suite of demersal scalefish species (and of each indicator species) by both the commercial and recreational sectors in the West Coast Bioregion (WCB) by at least 50 % of the 2005/06 levels (the catch benchmark), to allow stocks to recover.

The current (third) stock assessment of indicator species for the demersal scalefish suite was based on age data collected between 2008/09-2010/11 for G. hebraicum and P. auratus and 2007/08-2010/11 for C. rubescens and on catch statistics for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors (including charter fishing) from 2008-2012. The assessment compared estimates of fishing mortality (F) for the most recent period with several previous time periods and against internationally accepted biological reference points to determine whether there was evidence of any stock recovery. The sampling period for this assessment included the period when major changes were being made to management in the WCB of commercial and recreational/charter fishing for demersal species. As each of the indicator species is relatively long-lived, it is expected that it will take at least 10 years from these management changes before their stocks show strong signs of recovery, and that it may take substantially longer before they fully recover (~15-20 years).

Catches of the demersal suite of species in the WCB by the commercial sector and of the top 15 species taken by the recreational sector have been reduced to less than the catch benchmark. Although catches of all indicator species have been reduced, those of two indicator species, P. auratus and C. rubescens, have not been reduced below the catch benchmark by all sectors.

Publication Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Series Name: Fisheries Research Report No. 253
Publisher: Department of Fisheries, Western Australia
Copyright: © Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
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