- Better Choice
- Red emperor is a tropical species caught across northern Australia. The majority of catch in Australia is from WA.
- Recent assessments of the stocks of red emperor caught in the WA fishery indicate stocks are healthy.
- Red emperor is predominantly caught using fish traps and line, which have minimal impacts on marine habitats and protected species.
Note: A minor portion is trawl-caught in a fishery based in WA’s Pilbara. Red emperor caught from this fishery would receive a red, ‘Say No’ rating due to ongoing dolphin deaths as bycatch.
The pearlescent white flesh of Red Emperor is highly regarded by fish lovers. Its flesh is similar to that of Snapper, with a large but tender flake. Red emperor fillets can be steamed, pan-fried or barbecued. Whole fish can also be steamed, or wrapped in paper or foil and then grilled or roast.
WA Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery (Pilbara and Kimberley – Trap sector), (132t 2015)
Red emperor is a tropical species found across northern Australia but fished and managed by different jurisdictions. The largest fishery for this species operates in WA, where they are mainly caught using line and fish traps in the Kimberley region. A stock assessment for the species was produced in 2015, which indicates that the fished stock is healthy.
Trap and line fishing are a relatively selective method of fishing, meaning that there is limited bycatch of other species. The only reports of interactions with threatened species are of potato cod recorded in a video camera recording taken around the traps, but no potato cod have been recorded within the fish traps. Impacts on marine habitat are also minimal.
Some red Emperor are caught in a trawl fishery that operates in the Pilbara. This fishery has considerable issues with the bycatch of dolphins in fishing nets, and is not considered in this assessment. Red emperors caught in the trawl fishery would receive a Red, ‘Say No’ rating; however, the majority of red emperors are caught using trap and line methods.
- Eat Less
- Red emperor is a tropical species caught in QLD and NT.
- The stock status of red emperor is uncertain in eastern QLD as a result of insufficient information on the species’ abundance.
- While there are no immediate concerns over NT stocks the amount of fishing has increased in recent years, and there is considerable uncertainty over stock status.
- Red emperor from QLD are caught in fish trap and line fisheries that catch a number of other species of coral reef fish. Stocks of most other reef fish caught in the QLD fisheries are also uncertain.
- There is no observer coverage in QLD; independent observer coverage of trawl fisheries in the NT indicates interactions with sawfish, dolphins and hammerhead sharks. It is unlikely that the catch level is contributing to further declines in the populations of these species.
- In the NT, the expansion of the trawl sector of the fishery since 2011 is of concern due to potential impacts on marine habitats and protected species. Habitat type is largely unknown; however the trawled area is small.
- Fishery reforms in QLD and management actions in the NT should address issues of concern.
- QLD Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery (40t 2016)
- NT Demersal Fishery, Timor Reef Fishery, Coastal Line Fishery (65t 2015)
Red emperor is a tropical species found across northern Australia but fished and managed by different jurisdictions. The largest fishery for the species operates in WA, with smaller quantities caught in QLD and the NT.
While there are no immediate sustainability concerns for red emperor stocks in the NT, the amount of fishing happening in the NT has increased in recent years, and there is considerable uncertainty over the status of stocks. In QLD, there is insufficient information on the abundance of this species that would enable fisheries scientists to undertake full stock assessments.
The amount of trawling occurring in the NT has expanded significantly since 2011, when trawling increasingly replaced trap and line fishing as the prefered method. In addition, a trial has been underway in the Timor Sea for three years with no reported outcomes at the time of this assessment in early 2018. Concerns over the high fishing effort have been noted by fisheries managers, and it is expected that management actions will come into force in 2018 that should address these issues.
Red emperor caught in the QLD fishery are fished using line methods along the east coast. The fishery also catches a number of other species of coral reef fish but most of these fish stocks are uncertain because of a lack of reliable biological data and information on the effects of fishing.
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 habitat protection. The habitat trawled in the NT is poorly understood; currently the trawled area represents less than 5% of the total area available. Improved habitat mapping is urgently needed and is being considered as part of current management actions.
It is likely the line fisheries in QLD pose minimal risk to marine mammals, although there are some concerns over the bycatch of sharks. However, 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.
Independent observer coverage of trawl fisheries in the NT indicates interactions with sawfish, dolphins and hammerhead sharks, although it is unlikely the catch level is contributing to further declines in the populations of these species.
It is expected that the broad fisheries reforms currently underway in QLD will address a number of issues in the management of QLD fisheries in the future, and actions underway in the NT should address outstanding issues in the trawl fisheries. However, if identified issues remain outstanding at the next assessment for Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, it is likely that this species will be downgraded to a red ‘Say No’ listing.