Hapuku


Latin name: Polyprion oxygeneios


Common names: Groper, Hapuka

  • Better Choice
  • Say No

Wild Caught

Region:
WA

Note: Hapuku caught on WA's south coast are at serious risk of overfishing as a result of increasing catches and fishery managers' failure to complete new population health assessments triggered in management arrangements in 2017. This has resulted in a Say No GoodFish ranking for south coast-caught hapuku. Better management has been applied to the WA west coast hapuku fishery, and there are no such sustainability concerns, resulting in a Better Choice GoodFish ranking for west coast-caught hapuku.

Key Facts

  • Hapuku is a long-lived deepwater reef fish found throughout the subtropical and temperate Indo-Pacific oceans.
  • Hapuku is caught in two WA-managed fisheries, one on the west and another on WA’s south coast.
  • While the west coast population appears healthy, catches on the south coast (which takes ~70% of the total WA commercial catch) have increased significantly in recent years, triggering an important requirement for an updated scientific assessment in 2017 that has still not been completed. This poses a major risk to the sustainability of the south coast fishery.
  • The line fishing method used to catch Hapuku in WA has little impact on seafloor habitats and very low levels of bycatch.
  • Hapuku from WA’s west coast is a more sustainable choice than south coast-caught hapuku, given serious failures of management there.

More information

  • Western Australian Gascoyne, West Coast and South Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (32t in 2020/21)

Hapuku are a deepwater bottom-dwelling reef fish that spend the first few years of their life living near the sea surface, sheltering under drifting algae and detritus. This leads to wide dispersal of juvenile fish before they spend the rest of their long lives around deepwater reefs. For this reason, the spatial structure of hapuku stocks is poorly understood. Hapuku are long-lived and slow-growing, so are vulnerable to fishing pressure.

It is seriously concerning that the most recent scientific data used to assess the sustainability the WA stock is >17 years old. This is dangerously outdated, and falls well short of acceptable-practice fishery management. On the south coast, catches have increased highly significantly in recent years, beyond a level that was required to trigger an updated scientific assessment in 2017. This had still not been completed at the time of this GoodFish assessment in 2023; seriously increasing the risk to the sustainability of the fishery and underpinning the downgrade to a GoodFish red ranking for the south coast fishery.

A green ranking remains in place for the smaller west coast hapuku fishery, as significant management reforms intended to reduce pressure on other depleted species in that fishery have recently been produced, and there is significant marine park protection that provides an important refuge from fishing pressure in offshore waters of southwestern WA (where most west coast hapuku catch originates). These marine park protections are effectively absent from hapuku fishing grounds along WA’s south coast.

Hapuku is caught in vertical line fisheries on the edge of the Continental Shelf off the Western Australian Coast. Most fish caught are retained and sold and the fishing method is relatively targeted, so there appears to be little bycatch. However, there is no independent observation of fishing to ensure bycatch recording by fishers is accurate.

The line fishing methods used have little contact with the seabed, so cause negligible if any disturbance to seafloor habitats.