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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 all sectors together to ensure long-term sustainability of the species.

North Coast Bioregion

In the North Coast Bioregion, the overall recreational catch of demersal scalefish is small in comparison to commercial catches. 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. The commercial Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery, operating off the Kimberley coast also take spangled emperor.

Commercial fishing management measures include limited entry, gear and zone restrictions, effort allocations (allocations of fishing time) and vessel monitoring.

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​.

Gascoyne Coast Bioregion

Spangled emperor is a popular target for recreational fishers in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion. 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.

In the commercial sector, the Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery take a small amount of spangled emperor. Commercial fishing management measures include limited entry, quota limits, gear restrictions, and vessel monitoring.

West Coast Bioregion

The demersal scalefish stocks from Kalbarri to Augusta are called the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (WCDSR). The WCDSR is under a formal allocation, with 64% allocated to the commercial sector and 36% to the recreational (including charter) sector.

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 Fishing from Boat Licence is required. 

In the commercial sector, the West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery is managed 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. 

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 the recovery of the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource​.

Monitoring, assessment, and research

Research on demersal species in the North Coast, Gascoyne Coast and West Coast focus on monitoring the status of indicator species, such as spangled emperor in the Gascoyne Coast, 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.

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: 30/01/2023 11:26 AM

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