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- Eastern school whiting is a fast-growing species of fish found only around southeastern Australia. Stocks are healthy.
- Eastern school whiting are mainly caught by fishing vessels using Danish seine nets operating out of Victoria.
- Impacts of Danish seine fishing gear on marine habitats are minimal.
- Threatened species interactions are minimal.
- There is minimal discarding of unwanted fish.
- Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (718t in 2016-17)
Eastern school whiting is a fast growing species of fish only found around southeastern Australia. As they reach sexual maturity at an early age and reproduce quickly, they are resilient to fishing pressure. Stocks are considered healthy by fisheries managers.
Eastern school whiting are caught in shallow waters by fishing vessels using Danish seine nets that operate out of Lakes Entrance in Victoria. The fishery is part of one of Australia’s largest fisheries – the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) – which provides a substantial amount of fresh fish to Sydney and Melbourne.
The area where fishing occurs has been well mapped in order to determine regions of sensitive sea floor habitats and species. Danish seiners avoid fishing on rough seabed such as habitats with hard corals and sponges to avoid damage to their nets.
Eastern school whiting and tiger flathead are the target species in the Danish Seine fishery, and there is a low volume of discarded fish. Interactions with protected species are minimal as a result of the type of fishing gear used, but do include occasional catches of Australian fur seals, pipefish and seahorses.
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- The stock of eastern school whiting caught in the NSW fishery is healthy.
- Detailed mapping of the NSW habitat affected by trawling has recently been done, although it is unclear precisely where fishing activity is taking place, and therefore which habitats are most likely affected.
- While spatial closures and marine parks are in place in NSW, which should protect marine habitats to an extent, concerns around trawl damage to the seafloor remain.
- There is limited information on threatened species interactions. Interactions are likely, based on reports from other trawl fisheries operating in similar geographical areas.
- An independent study on bycatch has been undertaken, the results of which are not yet available.
- NSW Ocean Trawl Fishery (536t in 2015)
Stocks of NSW eastern school whiting are considered healthy by fisheries managers, but there are concerns that the fishing method could negatively impact the ocean environment.
Eastern school whiting are caught by fishing vessels using trawl gear in NSW. Detailed mapping of the NSW habitat affected by trawling has recently been undertaken, although it remains unclear precisely where fishing activity is taking place, and therefore which habitats are most likely affected. The fishing area includes sensitive marine habitats, such as rocky reefs with associated reef animals (for example, sponges and bryozoans, animals similar to corals). Spatial closures and marine parks are in place throughout NSW, providing some protection to marine habitats, however there are ongoing concerns around trawl damage to the seafloor. New trawl equipment currently being trialled by fishery managers in NSW has the potential to reduce the impact of fishing in the future.
There is limited information regarding threatened species interactions from the NSW fishery, although interactions are likely occurring based on reports from other trawl fisheries operating in similar geographical areas. The latest observer reported interaction figures are from 2007-08. Although an independent observer study of bycatch has been conducted, the results are not yet available to include in this assessment.