Southern Garfish


Latin name: Hyporhamphus melanochir


Common names: Garfish, Beakies

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Wild Caught

Region:
VIC

Key Facts

  • The stock status of southern garfish in VIC is uncertain.
  • Fishery managers measure the health of the stocks from historical catches; while catches have been stable, a decline has been reported in the most recent reports, which is of concern.
  • Southern garfish are caught using fishing methods that are low impact on habitat and other species.
  • Improvements have been made in reporting endangered wildlife interactions.
  • Pipefish are caught as bycatch; an industry code of practise aims to improve the survival rates of bycatch, and almost all pipefish are reported as released alive.

More information

  • VIC Corner Inlet Fishery (28t in 2015-16)

Southern garfish are found in surface waters of estuaries, bays, inlets and gulfs around Australia. Definitive information on the distribution of southern garfish stocks is generally lacking, particularly as most of the fisheries are small in scale. In VIC, fishery managers assess the health of the fish stock by looking at historical catch information and the sizes and ages of the fish caught, among other metrics.

The rate of catch of southern garfish varies over time; catch rates were stable prior to the most recent reported years, but have recently dropped to below the long-term average. A precautionary Amber rating has been applied until more information is available about the health of the stocks targeted.

Southern garfish is caught using lines and haul and dip nets. These methods have generally low impacts on habitats and other species; as fishers are present at the nets during fishing activity, endangered wildlife can be released alive. Fishers have developed a Code of Practise to improve the survival of released fish, and reporting of endangered wildlife interactions has improved in recent years. Pipefish are the predominant species caught in fishing activity, and fishery reports indicate almost all were released alive.

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Wild Caught

Region:
SA, TAS

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.
  • Declines in catch of southern garfish in TAS are of concern.
  • 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 (22t 2015-16)

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 and a precautionary red rating has been applied until more information is available.

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.