- Say No
- Stout Whiting are mostly caught using bottom trawl, and Danish seine net fishing methods in NSW.
- Stout whiting populations are healthy.
- Stout whiting are caught using otter trawls and Danish seine nets that mainly operate over sandy habitats. Sand habitats are naturally resilient to fishing activity and it is unlikely any sensitive marine habitats are negatively impacted.
- The accidental catch of threatened and endangered species like endemic sharks and rays is a major issue in Australian trawl fisheries. In NSW, there is low confidence in the accuracy of fisher reports of low levels of interactions considering the high fishing effort.
- Marine parks in NSW provide the most effective science based protection from the significant ecological risks posed by trawling, but alarmingly, at the time of writing, the NSW Government was considering opening highly protected marine parks to fishing.
- NSW Ocean Trawl Fishery (244t in 2019)
Stout whiting are found in coastal waters from southern Queensland to northern New South Wales from coastal sandflats to depths of >100m, where it is found over sandy substrates.
Fisheries managers assess the stock status of stout whiting using information from fishery catch records to assess if there are any significant changes in the age and size of fish caught. The stock status of stout whiting is considered healthy.
Stout Whiting is caught using otter trawls and Danish seine nets in fisheries that mostly target prawns. Trawled areas are mainly comprised of sandy sea floor, which are relatively resilient to fishing disturbance. Although the area fished is not extensively mapped, the likelihood of sensitive marine habitats being affected is low in this fishery.
Key ongoing concerns include the poor management of threatened and endangered species caught as bycatch and a high level of discards and byproducts caught. Fisher reporting of this bycatch is not considered reliable and observer coverage is inadequate.
Bycatch is thought to include white sharks, scalloped hammerhead and grey nurse sharks, seahorses and pipefish and green turtles. The fishery also operates in a region identified as an extinction-risk ‘hotspot’ for endemic sharks and rays like the whitefin swell shark, but there are no fishing rules in place to halt their decline.
In reporting provided by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in 2021 as part of the accreditation to export overseas, no threatened and endangered species bycatch was reported for two of the five most recent fishing years.This reporting is considered an unlikely reflection of the fishery’s real impacts.
At the time of writing, a research observer program had been completed based on data from 2017-19, but this data has not been published so it is not possible to understand the impact of the fishery.
Bycatch species that are not endangered or threatened, and discards are not required to be reported in the Ocean Trawl Fishery, from which the majority of the prawn catch comes in NSW.
The trawl gear used poses moderate risks to seafloor habitats. Fishery managers have trialed trawl gear designs that could reduce disturbance impacts but it is unclear whether these designs will be introduced to the entire fishery. There is a lack of understanding of the impacts on habitats and ecosystems due to a lack of investment in research by managers.
Marine parks in NSW provide the most effective science based protection from the significant ecological risks posed by trawling, but alarmingly, at the time of writing, the NSW Government was considering opening highly protected marine parks to fishing.