Coral Trout


Latin names: Plectropomus leopardus, P. maculatus, P. laevis, P. areolatus, Variola louti, V. albimarginata


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Wild Caught

Region:
QLD

Key Facts

  • The name 'coral trout' refers to a number of species that are managed together as a single entity.
  • The stock of the main species, the common coral trout, is considered to be healthy; however, there is little understanding of the stock status of other species in the species complex.
  • The impacts of line fishing on the marine environment are minimal. In QLD, fishing takes place around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which provides extensive protection for habitat in the area of these fisheries.
  • Extensive coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef may have long-term implications for the health of coral trout populations, but it is unclear whether this is being addressed in management actions.
  • While it is likely that line fishing has minimal impact on endangered wildlife, the lack of independent observer coverage in the fishery makes verification of this challenging.

More information

  • QLD Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery (754t in 2014-15)

The name ‘coral trout’ refers to a number of different species that are managed together as a single entity. The distribution and biology of each species is complex, which makes it more difficult to assess whether individual stocks are healthy. The status of common coral trout is considered to be healthy, based on relatively recent stock assessments. The lack of understanding of the status of other species in the suite is of concern, given that this group is relatively long-lived and therefore less resilient to fishing pressure that is set too high.

The impacts of line fishing on the marine environment are minimal. In QLD, fishing takes place around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which provides extensive protection for habitat in the area of these fisheries. However, back-to-back coral bleaching events (where coral is under stress due to warm ocean waters) in the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017, raises concerns, particularly as fisheries managers allowed an increase in the amount of coral trout that can be caught in early 2018. Coral trout are dependent on coral habitat for survival, but coral trout populations are important for supporting environmental resilience to the impacts of climate change. It is unclear how the significant loss of coral in recent years has affected coral trout abundance.

It is likely the line fisheries in QLD pose minimal risk to marine mammals, although there are some concerns over the bycatch of sharks. Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions, as well as other fishery impacts, such as the type and volume of discarded catch. Unfortunately the QLD Government has closed the observer program for all QLD managed fisheries in 2012. In the intervening six years, there has been no independent on-vessel monitoring of the impact of the fishery.