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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Barramundi management

Barramundi is targeted by both commercial and recreational fishers and we manage both fishing sectors together to ensure sustainability.

In Western Australia barramundi is caught commercially by the Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery (KGBF). The main species landed are barramundi and king threadfin.

We manage this fishery through limited entry, seasonal and area closures and gear restrictions. The KGBF management plan was amended in 2012 – changes included providing greater clarity about areas closed to fishing.

Recreational fishers take only a small amount of barramundi, estimated at between two and eight per cent of the overall barramundi catch in WA. We manage recreational fishing through bag and size limits and gear restrictions. 

Monitoring, assessment and research

We use monthly catch and ‘effort’ (the amount of fishing) data provided by commercial fishers to assess the status of barramundi populations targeted. Effort is calculated from the total length of net set per ‘gill net hour’ – which means the length of gill net used for every hour a gill net is in use.

Annual barramundi catches by the KGBF up to 1999 have been used to develop a total commercial target range.  

Barramundi commercial catch 2011

​ Target catch
Actual catch​
​Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery (KGBF)
25-40 tonnes
28.5 tonnes​
The commercial barramundi catch in 2010 was above the target range for the third successive year. Following this, a management review was recommended.
In 2011 the catch dropped to within the target catch range due to reduced fishing effort. Even so, with targets exceeded for three years in a row previously, a review of the fishery was still recommended. This review is now in progress and is considering issues such as the status of the barramundi stock, current effort levels and whether the current target catch range is appropriate.
A survey published in 2000 indicated recreational fishers took only about two per cent of the overall barramundi catch. It is estimated that they still take no more than eight per cent of the total catch. The results of a Statewide recreational boat fishing survey will provide more up-to-date information later in 2013.
Barramundi inhabit the State’s North West. They are found north from Exmouth Gulf but are most abundant in the Kimberley region. A growing tourism industry in the Kimberley, combined with population growth associated with the gas and mining industries, could lead to an increase in recreational fishing. Barramundi stocks that use large Kimberley river systems as nursery areas are expected to be fairly resilient to fishing pressure, however, the potential impact will be considered.
The Kimberley is a remote region with terrain that is often rugged and inaccessible. To give recreational fishers easier access to barramundi in the region, Lake Kununurra is being restocked with the species. The lake is actually a flooded river channel – it was created in 1963 after the completion of the Diversion Dam for the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. Barramundi thrived there until the dam wall created an obstacle to their annual upstream migration.

The project is aimed at reintroducing barramundi into their natural range within Lake Kununurra to provide an accessible recreational barramundi fishery for the growing local community and visitors to the area.
Over the four years of the project, the Kimberley Training Institute will release hundreds of thousands of juvenile barramundi (fingerlings) into the lake. The $700,000 project funding was announced in the 2011/12 State budget as part of the $2.3 million allocation to the Department to deliver our part of the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy.
In the Pilbara region, barramundi numbers are expected to fluctuate in the smaller, more isolated stocks on the arid Pilbara coast, depending on environmental conditions, such as rainfall levels. These stocks may also face increased pressure from recreational fishers, driven by population growth. The potential impact will be considered.
There is no commercial fishery that targets barramundi in the Pilbara.



Last modified: 18/06/2013 2:36 PM

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