Yellowtail Kingfish

Latin name: Seriola lalandi

Common names: Kingfish, Tasmanian Yellowtail, Yellowtail

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Yellowtail kingfish are caught using line and trap methods in NSW.
  • There is a lack of mature adult fish in commercial and recreational catches, indicating that the NSW population of Yellowtail Kingfish is not at a healthy level.
  • The fishing method used to catch Yellowtail Kingfish is highly targeted and poses a relatively low risk to seafloor habitats.
  • The fishing methods used are unlikely to pose a high risk to other species, but Government managers have been non-compliant with their obligations to improve management of bycatch issues in regulation of the fishery in which Yellowtail Kingfish are caught.
  • Marine parks and closures throughout the fishery also provide a degree of protection in some areas of the fishery. At the time of writing, the NSW Government was considering opening highly protected marine parks to fishing.

More information

  • Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (110t in 2019/20)

The Yellowtail Kingfish is found in coastal reef and estuarine habitats from inshore to 200m depth through southern Australia and feeds on smaller fish and squid. The species is extending its range southward into Tasmania and Victoria as a result of climate change.

The NSW catch of yellowtail is dominated by immature fish. The size of these fish remains stable but at a lower size, particularly among females. The NSW yellowtail kingfish population appears to be only very slowly recovering from an overfished condition following severe overfishing in the 1980-90s. Though there is a hypothesis that the population in NSW waters is supported by a migration from a distant spawning population of larger mature fish not exposed to significant commercial fishing; evidence in support of this is not compelling and it is not clear that NSW management of the minimum legal size fish that can be caught is sufficiently careful.

The methods used to catch yellowtail are highly targeted and are a low risk to other species being caught as bycatch. However the requirements for bycatch and the reporting of fish that have been discarded are generally poor in this fishery. Yellowfish are targeted in different areas and at different times of year to overfished stocks in the fishery like silver trevally.

The fishery is subject to a range of legislation, including Wildlife Trade Operation (WTO) accreditation. At the time of this assessment AMCS had found the NSW Department of Primary Industries was non compliant with its WTO conditions in relation to bycatch management in this fishery, impacting the ranking of this assessment overall. However, Yellowtail Kingfish are not caught using methods that result in a lot of bycatch.

Northern areas of the line component of the fishery were subject to an observer study in 2019, and another study on this section was published in 2015, but based on data from 2007-09. A more recent study has not been made publicly available which is a concern.

Marine parks in NSW provide the most effective science based protection from the ecological risks posed by fishing, but alarmingly, at the time of writing, the NSW Government was considering opening highly protected marine parks to fishing.