- Better Choice
- Rock Flathead are caught in Victoria’s Corner Inlet fishery..
- The fishery has been operating with a code of practice since 2020 to limit fishing effort to assist with the sustainability of stocks, and minimise bycatch (the accidental catch of non target species) and habitat damage.
- Fishers use gillnet and haul methods to catch them which, because of modifications introduced by the fishery, are thought to have a low impact on marine habitats and threatened species.
Corner Inlet Fishery (49t in 2019/20, 62t in 2018/19)
Rock flathead are found in southern Australian estuaries, inlets and coastal waters, often on seagrass beds. They grow rapidly, reaching maturity at around two years old.
Other commercial fisheries in Gippsland and Port Philip Bay closed after the catch was allocated to recreational fishers.
The biology of the species is poorly understood at the time of writing, although a major research project is underway to address key knowledge gaps. A recent stock assessment showed the stock was declining but the reduction in gillnet effort and the removal of commercial fishing effort in nearby fisheries should help to address this decline. The fishery will require careful scrutiny in the future.
Measures instigated by the Corner Inlet Fishery to limit bycatch include fishing at night (which reduces seabird bycatch), devices used from their boats which help bycatch escape and the use of in water sorting of catch in their nets leading to the release of bycatch. These practices help ensure a high survival rate of species that have not been targeted.
The fishery operates within a RAMSAR listed wetland, making it habitat for a range of protected bird species. ‘No-take’ zones within a marine park in the region provide additional protection for marine species.
Gillnets are typically considered to be a dangerous fishing method by conservationists because of the relatively indiscriminate manner in which they catch marine species. However, there has been a recent reduction in the use of gillnets in the fishery following the introduction of the code of practice. The small scale of the gillnet operation is also a mitigating factor.
The haul seine fishing method generally has low impacts on marine habitat and threatened species, although increased reporting by independent fisheries observers would provide additional confidence in reporting of endangered species interactions.