Blue Warehou


Latin name: Seriolella brama


Common names: Black Trevally, Sea Bream, Tasmanian Trevally

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Wild Caught

Region:
New Zealand, Commonwealth waters

Key Facts

  • Blue warehou is overfished in Australia, and management measures have failed to enable the population to rebuild in well over a decade. The species is now listed as ‘conservation dependent’ under Commonwealth environmental legislation, a listing that still permits targeted fishing of this protected species.
  • Some of the area of seabed covered by the Australian fishery has been mapped, and trawling grounds overlap with high-risk habitats, including areas of sensitive corals and sponges.
  • The Australian fishery catches some threatened species such as Australian fur seals, shortfin mako sharks and seabirds, although industry have been proactive in trying to reduce mortalities of vulnerable species.
  • Bycatch and habitat impacts from trawling are a key concern in the NZ fishery. Catches of Salvin's albatross, for example, have increased and could be causing declines in the population. Trawling is conducted in areas that are not well mapped and sensitive seafloor-dwelling species with long recovery times have been recorded in trawl nets.

More information

  • Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (99t 2011-12)
  • New Zealand 3,381t caught in 2011-12 (import reports do not document quantity imported into Australia)

Blue warehou is overfished in Australia, and management measures have failed to enable the population to rebuild in well over a decade. The species is now listed as ‘conservation dependent’ under Commonwealth environmental legislation, a listing that still permits targeted fishing of this protected species. There are currently no estimates of population numbers in New Zealand and it is unknown if fishing levels are too high. This is of concern, given the scale of the fishery and the vulnerability of the species to fishing activity.

Blue warehou is caught using otter trawls in Australia. Some of the area where fishing occurs has been well mapped in order to identify the distribution of sensitive bottom-dwelling species. Trawling sometimes takes place on areas of seafloor that support sponges, hard corals and bryozoans (small invertebrates that form colonies similar to coral reefs) and it is unclear how much trawling activity is resulting in damage to habitats and associated species.

Protected species caught in this fishery include Australian fur seals, seabirds (including albatross and shearwaters) and shortfin mako sharks. Inconsistencies between logbook reporting and independent observers have been a problem in the past, however, the fishing industry has been addressing these inconsistencies through training schemes. Seal Excluder Devices (SEDs), which act as escape hatches for seals that enter trawl nets, are mandatory, and the industry has been proactive in trying to reduce seabird interactions.

In New Zealand, the impact of trawling for blue warehou on sensitive marine habitat is unclear. Slow-growing species that take many years to recover from trawl damage have been recorded in trawl nets, for example, hard corals and sea fans.  There is a high and increasing bycatch of threatened seabirds, in particular, Salvin’s albatross, the population of which may be in decline as a direct result of fishing activity. Salvin’s albatross is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.