Southern Garfish

Latin name: Hyporhamphus melanochir

Common names: Beakies, Garfish

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • There is significant concern over stocks of southern garfish.
  • Fishery managers in SA have taken actions to support the recovery of stocks but management measures do not appear to have been effective and stocks remain overfished.
  • The southern garfish fishery in TAS appears to have collapsed.
  • Southern garfish are caught using fishing methods that are low impact on habitat and other species.
  • General reporting of other species of fish caught in the nets is poor across SA and TAS.

More information

  • SA Marine Scalefish Fishery (155t 2016)
  • TAS Scalefish Fishery (7t 2018-19)

Southern garfish are found in surface waters of estuaries, bays, inlets and gulfs around Australia. The status of southern garfish stocks are of concern in a number of fisheries around Australia as a result of high fishing pressure and habitat loss. Catches in most regions are at historically low levels due to a reduction in available fish. Definitive stock data is generally lacking, as most of the fisheries are small in scale.

Although fishery managers have taken actions to reduce the catch of overfished southern garfish in South Australia (such as reducing the amount of southern garfish that can be caught), these have not resulted in significant recovery of stocks, which remain overfished. The implementation of marine parks in SA in 2012 removed some fishing activity and protected southern garfish nursery habitat, which may help in building the recovery of the stocks in the future.

The lack of knowledge of stock structure around Tasmania and recent declines in catch and the rate of catch are of concern – the local fishery appears to have collapsed.

There is also a significant recreational catch of southern garfish, although catch levels are not quantified and impact on stocks is unknown.

Southern garfish are caught using lines and haul and dip nets. These methods have generally low impacts on habitats and on other species; as fishers are present at the nets during fishing activity, endangered wildlife can be released alive. Net fisheries tend to catch and discard a substantial amount of undersized garfish, which tend not to survive as nets de-scale the fish. Garfish tend to aggregate together, and netting these aggregations has been identified as responsible for leading to declines in population numbers.

General reporting of other species of fish caught in the nets is poor across SA and TAS.