Sea Mullet

Latin name: Mugil cephalus

Common name: Mullet

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Stocks of sea mullet in NSW, WA and QLD are considered healthy.
  • The nets used to catch sea mullet generally have a low impact on habitat.
  • Fishery impacts on threatened species appear minimal, although there has been little independent observer coverage in recent years.
  • Fishers are generally present at the nets during fishing, which means any endangered wildlife caught can be released alive.
  • In NSW and WA, the fisheries catching sea mullet also catch overfished species, however recovery plans are in place to support rebuilding.

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 Estuary General Fishery, Ocean Hauling Fishery (2,328t in 2015)
  • WA West Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Finfish Resource (WCNEFR), which includes five sub-fisheries (200t in 2015)

In NSW  and WA, all of the indicators these fisheries use to monitor stocks of sea mullet suggest that stocks are healthy; recent catches are similar to levels recorded in long-term fishery catch records. Although sea mullet is a relatively fast growing species with a low vulnerability to overfishing, the last stock assessments in NSW and QLD were conducted over a decade ago and require updating.

Fishing for sea mullet generally takes place in estuaries and in nearshore locations using various types of nets, all of which have a low impact on habitats. As fishers are present at the nets during fishing, any endangered wildlife caught can be released alive. In NSW and WA, it is also likely that the fisheries have a low catch of threatened and protected species based on previous independent observer records of bycatch. Minor interactions with seabirds have been reported by independent scientific observers and in fisheries logbooks in NSW; updates to independent observer reports are required as information is outdated. Minimal interactions with endangered wildlife have been reported in WA and high interactions are unlikely, although this information requires verification with independent observer coverage.

The fisheries operating in NSW also catch mulloway, which is overfished in NSW. The WA fisheries catch Australian herring, which is also overfished. Management plans are in place to reduce the take of both species although it is unclear if these measures are proving effective at allowing mulloway and herring to rebuild. The fisheries are unlikely to be significantly affecting the health of the populations of either species. However, if improvements to mulloway and Australian herring stocks are not apparent during the next assessment, it is likely to result in a downgrading to an amber ‘Think Twice’ rating.