Sea Mullet

Latin name: Mugil cephalus

Common name: Mullet

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Sea Mullet are mainly caught in NSW using haul seine nets deployed from sandy beaches.
  • Sea Mullet populations are around levels considered healthy, but appear to be declining towards concerning levels.
  • Both NSW and QLD-based fisheries target the same Sea Mullet populations, but managers do not work in a fully collaborative manner.
  • The fishing methods used to catch Sea Mullet are likely to have a minimal impact on threatened species but there is concern over the adequacy of reporting and minimal independent observer coverage. Regulations requiring that nets be attended increase the likelihood that any bycatch is released alive.
  • Marine parks provide a degree of protection in some areas of the fishery for threatened and endangered species. Closures also restrict beach net fishing from 17% of NSW beaches.

Cooking & Recipes


Mullets have juicy, slightly oily flesh with a medium to strong flavour. For the best results, the fish should be very fresh and well handled, showing clear eyes, firm flesh, bright red gills and no fishy smell. Mullet goes incredibly well cooked on the BBQ or hot smoked, the slight oiliness ensures the fish remains moist. Smoky flavours compliment it well. Accompany mullet with Mediterranean flavours such as tomato, olive and basil. Whole mullet can also be roast in a hot oven with similar flavours – the moist flesh will flake from the bones with ease.

More information

  • NSW Ocean Haul Fishery (2,650t in 2018/19)

Sea mullet are found throughout the coastal waters of tropical, subtropical and temperate zones of all seas. They are found around sandy, sea grass, and mangrove habitats. They are caught in commercial fisheries in QLD, NSW and WA.

They form large migratory spawning schools that become seasonally important as prey for a range of sharks and dolphins, as well as a predator on smaller finfish.

Sea mullet populations were just below a level considered healthy at the most recent scientific assessment, but there is evidence that the population is declining toward a level that may become dangerous in future.

In NSW beach haul nets are used to take most of the commercial catch. This fishing method targets single species schools that differ seasonally. Most of the catch is retained with discards likely to be undersized individuals.

There have been low levels of reported protected species catch since 2012 with most released alive from the haul seine net section of the fishery. However, the most recent observer study in this component of the fishery occurred in 2005.

Marine Parks provide some protection but, at the time of writing, the NSW DPI was considering opening highly protected marine reserves to fishing.