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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Spangled emperor management

Spangled emperor, a demersal (bottom-dwelling) fish, is a target for recreational fishers and also a minor component of the catch in several commercial fisheries in Western Australia. We manage both sectors together to ensure long-term sustainability of the species.

Recreational fishing is managed through daily bag limits, possession limits and size limits. Fishers using a powered boat also need a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence.

Spangled emperor is a popular target for recreational fishers in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion, with 36 tonnes taken in 2011 (30 tonnes estimated, plus 6 tonnes charter), compared with only four tonnes taken commercially.

This species is also caught recreationally in the West Coast Bioregion. In response to data indicating overfishing in this bioregion in recent years, we took extra measures to reduce the catch in the bioregion, with the aim of keeping catches at less than 50 per cent of 2005/06 levels.

Introduced measures include an annual two-month closed season for recreational fishing for demersal species and reduced bag limits. Commercial wetline and demersal gillnet and longline fishing has been closed from Lancelin to Mandurah.

The exact amount of spangled emperor taken by recreational fishers in the North Coast Bioregion is not known but charter fishers are estimated to take only about one per cent of the entire demersal catch and the overall recreational catch is known to be small compared with the commercial catch. With increasing populations in the Pilbara and Kimberley due to mining, oil and gas developments, recreational catches are likely to increase in future.

In the commercial sector, the Pilbara Demersal Scalefish Fisheries, which include trawl, trap and line fisheries, take most spangled emperor (46 tonnes in 2011). Also in the North Coast Bioregion, the commercial Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery, which operates off the Kimberley coast, took 20 tonnes in 2011.

Commercial fishing management measures include gear and zone restrictions, a minimum size limit for taking spangled emperor, limits on the number of permits and fishing vessels and effort allocations (allocations of fishing time).

In the demersal fisheries in the North Coast, Gascoyne Coast and West Coast bioregions, we monitor compliance to specified commercial fishing days/times with a satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS). 

Monitoring, assessment and research

Data from log books submitted by commercial fishers and information from VMS is analysed to assess stock status of each species. 

In the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion, spangled emperor is an ‘indicator species’, meaning its stock status, along with the status of several other species, is used to indicate the status of stocks of all demersal fish in the bioregion.

A recreational fishing survey in the region was carried out in 2007/08. There is also limited monitoring of catches at fishing tournaments. More up-to-date recreational boat fishing data from a Statewide survey will be available in 2013.

 
Research indicates fishing of spangled emperor in the north Gascoyne area exceeds sustainable levels but stock is at an adequate level for the region overall. 

Gascoyne Coast spangled emperor status 2011

​Bioregion Status of stock​ ​Amount of fishing (effort)

Gascoyne Coast Bioregon

Adequate​

South Gascoyne - acceptable
 
North Gascoyne  - unacceptable

Ongoing monitoring continues with a trial of low-cost methods including biological sampling at tournaments and on collections of carcasses at public filleting tables.

A study carried out in collaboration with CSIRO focused on fishing of spangled emperor in the Ningaloo Marine Park. The results were used to look at the potential influence of increases in water temperatures and cyclone activity on different management strategies.

 

 

Last modified: 12/08/2013 1:35 PM

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