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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Dhufish management

Commercial and recreational fishers target West Australian dhufish, mainly in the West Coast Bioregion. We manage both sectors together to help ensure long-term sustainability of stocks.

Recreational fishing, including charter fishing, is managed by size, bag, boat and possession limits. When fishing from a powered boat a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) is required.

We also limit entry to the charter sector – new licences for charter operations involving fishing are no longer being granted except under extraordinary circumstances.

Dhufish belongs to a ‘suite’ (group) of demersal (bottom-dwelling) species.

In the commercial sector, the West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WCDSIMF) takes most dhufish. We manage this fishery by limiting entry permits and applying gear restrictions. Units are allocated to permits and provide entitlement in ‘hours’ of fishing time. This is monitored through a vessel monitoring system.

Other commercial fisheries take a smaller amount of dhufish. The demersal stocks fished are called the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource.

Management goals

In recent years, stock assessments indicated dhufish and other demersal fish were being overfished. In response, we made management changes in the West Coast Bioregion to reduce ‘effort’ (the amount of fishing) for demersal species, and subsequently, catch, to allow stocks to recover.

Bag limits were reduced and an annual closed season was introduced for recreational fishing for demersal species. We also closed commercial wetline and demersal gillnet and longline fishing from Lancelin to Mandurah.

The main goal is to keep catches of scalefish and demersal species at below 50 per cent of those in the bioregion in 2005/06. Additional goals (50 per cent of the 2005/06 catch) are set for each indicator species.

Dhufish 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.

Our estimates and figures indicate the reductions aimed for have been achieved. As the current overall catch levels of this suite and the indicator species are within the acceptable catch range, the stocks are currently assessed as recovering.

Dhufish catch, West Coast Bioregion 2010/11* or 2011
Sector/fishery Target catch​
​Commercial (WCDSIMF only)
< 72 tonnes
67 tonnes​
Recreational < 109 tonnes ​
97 tonnes
(85 tonnes, estimated, plus 12 tonnes, charter)
* Catches are reported from the most recent complete season of log book data – 2010/11 for some fisheries.

West Australian dhufish status 2011
Breeding stock​ level
Amount of fishing (effort)​
West Coast Bioregion

Monitoring, assessment and research

Research on demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion focuses on monitoring the status of indicator species. For more information, see Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 85, 2011

We monitor the status of dhufish in several ways and analyse data obtained.
Catch and effort data from log books of commercial and charter fishers allows comparison of catches over time. Catch and effort data from general recreational fishers is also analysed. A Statewide survey of boat fishers has been completed and the results will be available in 2013.
Dhufish is a slow-growing species. Important signals that stocks are being overfished may include a decrease in the maximum age of fish sampled and a drop in the proportion of older fish.
Scientists use dhufish earbones (obtained from fish frames donated by fishers) to determine the age of each fish and the age structure of stocks in the different management areas of the West Coast Bioregion, from which estimates of fishing mortality are calculated.
Other research projects include a State Government-funded Natural Resource Management project to investigate where young dhufish live.











Last modified: 28/04/2016 1:56 PM

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