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- Mulloway are a large predatory fish found around surf beaches, coastal reefs and inlets and estuaries throughout subtropical and southern Australia
- Mulloway are caught by line, trap and bottom gillnet methods in WA and SA
- In SA, the connection between environmental variation (river flow) and the breeding success of mulloway is well recognised and is used as the basis to set catch levels
- The effect of recent drought on the major SA mulloway fishery will become apparent in coming years, and may test the sustainability of that fishery
- The state of WA mulloway stocks is poorly understood, but catches are relatively low
- While line fishing is unlikely to significantly impact marine wildlife, there are concerns over bycatch of Australian sea lions in gillnets in WA
Note: There are serious concerns with protected Australian Sea Lion bycatch in WA mulloway fisheries that use gillnets. If available, line or trap-caught mulloway is a more sustainable choice.
- SA Lakes and Coorong Fishery and Marine Scalefish Fishery (111t in 2017)
- WA West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource, Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Resource, South Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (16t in 2017)
Mulloway is a large predatory fish widely distributed throughout inshore coastal marine and estuarine sandy and reef environments; and is targeted by commercial and recreational fisheries around subtropical and southern Australia. The recreational catch in some states in Australia is a significant portion of the overall catch of mulloway, and can equal or exceed commercial landings.
The distribution of mulloway stocks around SA and WA is uncertain, as while it is assumed there is one stock throughout southern Australian there is evidence of finer scale separation within each State’s waters.
In SA, most mulloway are caught using gillnets in the Lakes and Coorong Fishery, which is highly dependent on the health of the Murray River. A recent welcome move by fishery managers has been to explicitly monitor and build these important environmental factors into managing the mulloway catch. This will require careful monitoring in future, as the effects of recent drought affecting the Murray river become more clear.
Management of mulloway fisheries in WA is less science-based, but is not considered a high risk due to recent small catches. This will require monitoring and reform if catches increase significantly in future.
In SA, there have been issues with increasing interactions between newly established long-nosed fur seal populations and Lakes and Coorong net fishers, which is a cause of some concern. Similarly, in WA, bycatch of Australian Sea Lions has been an issue of serious concern in gillnet fisheries. While these issues are being addressed by management and it appears that the risk to these protected species has been reduced, it will take some time to be confident that these protective measures are adequate.
Low numbers of interactions with endangered wildlife are recorded in the SA and WA mulloway gillnet fishery, and fishing methods are unlikely to pose a high risk. Independent observer coverage would provide confidence in the records of endangered wildlife interactions. Line and trap fishing for mulloway poses negligible risk to protected species, and represents a more sustainable choice if available.