- 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 Demersal Scalefish Fishery (360t in 2021)
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. Recent and regularly updated stock assessments provide evidence that populations are around healthy levels, and that overfishing is unlikely to be occurring.
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 emperor are caught using trap and line methods.
- Better Choice
- Eat Less
- Red emperor is a tropical species caught in WA, QLD and the NT.
- Four populations of red emperor are caught in the NT fishery, mostly using trap fishing methods, but a lesser proportion is caught line and bottom trawl fishing methods.
- In 2020 NT red emperor populations were assessed individually for the first time, which was a welcome advance. Populations appear in healthy condition.
- Independent observer coverage of trawl fisheries in NT indicates some bycatch of endangered or protected sawfish, dolphins and hammerhead sharks, although it is unlikely that catch levels are contributing to further declines in these species.
- Though trap and line fishing methods present very low risk to habitat, the growing trawl fishery is of some concern for potential impacts to marine habitat.
Note: A proportion of NT red emperor catch comes from trap or line fishing methods that pose a lower risk to marine habitats and bycatch species than the trawl fishery which takes most of the catch. For this reason, trap and line-caught red emperor is ranked a GoodFish 'Better Choice'.
- NT Offshore Snapper Fishery (76t in 2019)
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.
Red emperor is caught using trap, line and bottom otter trawl fishing methods in the NT.
Managers have determined that there are four distinct populations of red emperor caught in the NT fishery. While the status population accounting for a very minor proportion of the catch is unknown, the other populations were subject to a basic scientific assessment in 2020 which provides evidence that they are in healthy condition.
The amount of trawling occurring in the NT has expanded significantly since 2011, when trawling increasingly replaced trap and line fishing as the primary source of catch.
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. Independent observer coverage of trawl fisheries in 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.
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 a priority and is being undertaken as part of current management actions.
The trap and line fishing methods used to catch red emperor pose a low risk to other species or marine habitats, and can be considered a more sustainable GoodFish ranked ’Better Choice’ if available.