- Better Choice
- Sand whiting are caught using haul seine nets, and to a lesser extent gillnets, in NSW.
- Stocks of sand whiting in NSW are considered healthy.
- The nets used to catch sand whiting generally have a low impact on habitat.
- Fishery impacts on threatened species appear minimal, although there has been no independent observer coverage in recent years.
- The fishery that catches sand whiting also catches overfished mulloway, but most sand whiting are caught using a method that facilitates the healthy release of mulloway bycatch.
Sand Whiting are the smaller, cheaper cousin of the well-regarded King George Whiting. Like other Whitings in the family, Sand Whiting have fine white flesh with a delicate flake and a mild, sweet flavour. They are an affordable and easy-to-use fish, available either whole or ‘butterflied’ with most of their bones already removed. Try Sand Whiting pan-fried or on the BBQ. They can also be crumbed and fried for delicious results. Fine ‘pin-bones’ will dissolve with the application of high heat, and do not need to be removed prior to cooking.
- NSW Estuary General Fishery (92t in 2019/20)
Sand whiting (also named ‘summer whiting’ in QLD) are found along the entire eastern coastline of Australia, as well as in Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. They inhabit shallow coastal and estuarine waters, over sandy substrates, where they predate on benthic invertebrates.
They are caught commercially in NSW and QLD (which is the largest commercial fishery). Recreational harvest is highly significant, taking 2-3x the commercial catch in NSW.
Stocks of sand whiting in NSW are considered healthy, as commercial catches are stable compared to fishery catch records, indicating that overfishing is not occurring.
Fishing for sand whiting generally takes place in estuaries using mostly haul seine nets and to a lesser extent gillnet fishing methods, which have a low impact on habitats. As fishers are present at the nets during fishing, endangered wildlife can be released alive. It is also likely that this fishery has a low catch of threatened and protected species based on previous independent observer records of bycatch in the fisheries, although there has been no observer coverage to verify logbook reporting of threatened species interaction reporting since 2009.
The fishing methods used to catch sand whiting have minimal impacts on marine habitat. In addition, the fisheries operate in areas that are afforded some protection by marine parks.
This fishery also catches mulloway, a species that is overfished in NSW. The fisheries that take the majority of sand whiting do not catch a high proportion of mulloway caught in NSW, so are unlikely to be significantly affecting the health of the population.