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Stock assessment of the Queensland-New South Wales tailor fishery (Pomatomus saltatrix)

Leigh, G.M. and O'Neill, M.F. (2004) Stock assessment of the Queensland-New South Wales tailor fishery (Pomatomus saltatrix). Project Report. Southern Fisheries Centre (SFC), Deception Bay. Infomation Series QI04065. Deptartment of Primary Industries and Fisheries.



Data on catch sizes, catch rates, length-frequency and age composition from the Australian east coast tailor fishery are analysed by three different population dynamic models: a surplus production model, an age-structured model, and a model in which the population is structured by both age and length.

The population is found to be very heavily exploited, with its ability to reproduce dependent on the fishery’s incomplete selectivity of one-year-old fish. Estimates of recent harvest rates (proportion of fish available to the fishery that are actually caught in a single year) are over 80%. It is estimated that only 30–50% of one-year-old fish are available to the fishery. Results from the age-length-structured model indicate that both exploitable biomass (total mass of fish selected by the fishery) and egg production have fallen to about half the levels that prevailed in the 1970s, and about 40% of virgin levels.

Two-year-old fish appear to have become smaller over the history of the fishery. This is assumed to be due to increased fishing pressure combined with non-selectivity of small one-year-old fish, whereby the one-year-old fish that survive fishing are small and grow into small two-year-old fish the following year. An alternative hypothesis is that the stock has undergone a genetic change towards smaller fish; the true explanation is unknown.

The instantaneous natural mortality rate of tailor is hypothesised to be higher than previously thought, with values between 0.8 and 1.3 yr–1 consistent with the models. These values apply only to tailor up to about three years of age, and it is possible that a lower value applies to fish older than three.
The analysis finds no evidence that fishing pressure has yet affected recruitment. If a recruitment downturn were to occur, however, under current management and fishing pressure there is a strong chance that the fishery would need a complete closure for several years to recover, and even then recovery would be uncertain. Therefore it is highly desirable to better protect the spawning stock.

The major recommendations are
• An increase in the minimum size limit from 30cm to 40cm in order to allow most one-year-old fish to spawn, and
• An experiment on discard mortality to gauge the proportion of fish between 30cm and 40cm that are likely to survive being caught and released by recreational line fishers (the dominant component of the fishery, currently harvesting roughly 1000t p.a. versus about 200t p.a. from the commercial fishery).

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Corporate Creators:Animal Science, Fisheries
Additional Information:© The State of Queensland, Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries. Copyright protects this publication. Except for purposes permitted by the Copyright Act 1968, reproduction by whatever means is prohibited without prior written permission of the Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, Queensland.
Keywords:Final report ; Fish stock assessment; blue fish; maturity; fecundity; catch sizes; catch rates; length-frequency.
Subjects:Science > Statistics
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery management. Fishery policy
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > By region or country
Live Archive:23 Aug 2005
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:47

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