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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Baldchin management

Baldchin groper belong to a ‘suite’ (group) of demersal (bottom-dwelling) species. The demersal stocks fished between Kalbarri and Augusta are called the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (WCDSR).

The commercial sector and the recreational (including charter) sector target baldchin groper in the West Coast Bioregion. The WCDSR is under a formal allocation, with 64% allocated to the commercial sector and 36% to the recreational (including charter) sector. We manage all sectors together to help ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks.

The recreational (including charter) sector is managed to a total catch limit by bag, boat and possession limits, limited entry and tags (charter) and limited open seasons for recreational fishers. In addition, when fishing from a powered boat a Recreational Boat Fishing licence is required. 

In the commercial sector, the West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WCDSIMF) take the most baldchin groper. We manage this fishery by limiting entry, applying gear restrictions, and allocating a total catch limit. Units of entitlement are allocated to permits in ‘hours’ of fishing time and are monitored through a vessel monitoring system. Other commercial fisheries also take a smaller amount of baldchin groper.

​We manage both sectors together to ensure long-term sustainability of the species.

Recovery Plan

Baldchin groper is one indicator species for the inshore demersal suite in the West Coast Bioregion, which means its stock status is used to indicate the status of all inshore demersal species in the bioregion.

To ensure there are stocks of these iconic fish for the future, a 20-year recovery plan for the WCDSR has been in place since 2010 after a period of overfishing in the early 2000s. Find out more about recovery on the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource webpage.

Abrolhos Islands spawning closure

While usually solitary or inclined to reside in small groups, baldchin have been observed to ‘aggregate’ or gather in large groups of up to one hundred fish to spawn. At these times, they may be vulnerable to high levels of fishing. 

At the Abrolhos Islands, spawning usually occurs from August to January, with peak spawning generally occurring from October to December (Nardi et al. 2006).

To protect spawning fish, baldchin groper are currently provided protection from all fishing sectors at the Abrolhos Islands from 1 October to 31 December each year.

Monitoring, assessment, and research

Research on demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion focuses on monitoring the status of the indicator species, such as baldchin groper, to ensure fishing pressure is not having a negative impact on stocks. For more information, see Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 85, 2011.

We assess the status of indicator species using a weight-of-evidence approach that considers all available information.

Catch and effort data from commercial and charter logbooks are reviewed annually, with Statewide surveys of recreational private boat-based fishers​ undertaken every two to three years since 2011/12. Estimates of total fishing mortality (retained catches + mortality of released fish) are compared against relevant recovery benchmarks for each sector.

Fish frames of indicator species are collected and used to determine age compositions of stocks in relevant management areas, from which estimates of fishing mortality and relative spawning biomass are calculated. 

Links to the most up to date stock assessment can be found on the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource webpage.

Last modified: 30/01/2023 11:21 AM

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