- Eat Less
- There are no formal stock assessments for king threadfin in NT or WA, although it is a key species caught in the NT barramundi fishery. Catches are stable in both jurisdictions and there are no immediate sustainability concerns.
- The NT and WA fisheries interact with threatened species, such as crocodiles and sawfish. Interactions are not thought to be resulting in population declines and area closures and marine parks should confer protection to endangered species.
- Independent observer coverage is due to begin again in 2018 in NT. It is non-existent in WA, a major concern offset by the small scale of this fishery .
- NT Barramundi Fishery (296t 2016)
- WA Kimberley Gillnet and King Threadfin Fishery (25t of king and blue threadfin in 2015)
There are no formal stock assessments for king threadfin stocks in NT or WA, although they are a key species caught in the NT barramundi fishery. The NT monitors the stock health of king threadfin by assessing long-term catch records and the age and length of fish caught over time to ensure these measures remain stable. The WA fishery lands a relatively small volume of king threadfin.
Threatened species caught in the NT and WA fisheries include crocodiles and sawfish. The NT fishing industry has developed a Code of Practice that details the best methods to release bycatch alive. Given the wide distribution of the protected species caught and the moderate interaction rates recorded previously by independent observers, there are no indications that the fisheries are causing population declines of any protected species. There are extensive areas closed to gillnet fishing in NT waters and recently established marine parks in WA that are likely to confer a degree of protection to endangered species.
There has been previous independent observer coverage in NT, where the program is due to begin again in 2018. There is no observer coverage in WA, which is a concern offset by the small scale of this fishery.
- Say No
- Gillnets catching king threadfin also catch significant numbers of protected and vulnerable wildlife as bycatch, including dolphins, turtles, dugongs and hammerhead sharks.
- There is a high probability that protected species bycatch is higher than reported in fishery logbooks. Fisheries managers in QLD have reported discrepancies between protected species interactions reported in fishery logbooks and those recorded by independent observers.
- The fishery observer program in QLD was cancelled in 2012, meaning there is no independent record of the impact of the fishery on threatened species. Observation of the fishery is considered essential to the management of a sustainable fishery.
- There are no formal stock assessments of king threadfin in QLD. There are concerns around the management arrangements for ensuring stocks are healthy, particularly as the structure of stocks is so complex and region-specific.
- QLD fisheries are currently undergoing broad reforms that should improve this ranking in the future, provided that the reforms deliver the strong and effective management necessary to support sustainable fisheries.
- QLD East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery and Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (296t 2016)
In two Queensland managed fisheries operating off the eastern and Gulf coasts, king threadfin is caught mainly using gillnets.
This assessment is based on the current impact of fishing for king threadfin in QLD-managed fisheries. A reform of QLD fisheries is currently underway in order to modernise the management framework, demonstrate sustainability, improve the profitability of the industry and meet community expectations. AMCS will review the sustainability of the fishery following the fishery reform process.
The health of king threadfin populations has not been formally addressed using stock assessments in QLD. Fishing effort (how much fishing can take place) is managed by measures such as fisheries closures at certain times and in certain areas. However, the stock structure is extremely complex; in some areas, there is a single stock in a river catchment area.
There are concerns that the minimum legal size for king threadfin is set too high to protect a proportion of the breeding stock from fishing before they reach maturity. There are no management measures in place that specifically address the high potential for localised depletion in threadfins, although some stocks are likely subject to no fishing pressure as a result of fishery closures.
In both fisheries a number of threatened species are caught as bycatch, including green, loggerhead, flatback and leatherback turtles, inshore dolphins, dugongs, sawfish and a number of shark species, including hammerhead sharks. Even low levels of snubfin and humpback dolphin deaths will have a significant impact on their populations in QLD, and it is highly likely that fishing activity is resulting in the decline of populations in some areas.
Fisheries managers in QLD have also reported inconsistencies between fisheries logbook records and information from independent observers, including differences between the number, rate and type of protected species interactions. There is a high probability that protected species bycatch is higher than reported.
Sectors of both fisheries also target some shark species, despite a lack of information on their stock status. There is limited information on much of the basic biology of many of the targeted species, e.g. their age at maturity, frequency of reproduction and number of young. This lack of knowledge is particularly concerning as shark species are generally long-lived, slow to mature and produce few young, making them highly vulnerable to population depletion as a result of fishing activity. Sharks are also apex predators that are essential to maintaining healthy marine food webs.
Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions. Unfortunately the QLD Government 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 fishery’s impact, which is unacceptable for fisheries operating in the ecologically sensitive regions of the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria. In addition, for fisheries that interact with threatened species, there is no record of actual protected species interactions over time, the ecological impacts of the fishery cannot be measured or managed.
QLD fisheries are currently undergoing broad reforms that should improve this ranking in the future, provided that the reforms deliver the strong and effective management necessary to support sustainable fisheries.