Anglers on the east coast can welcome in 2023 by fishing for more black jewfish after detailed research found stock of the favourite species was in a healthy state.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said a new black jewfish stock assessment, informed by a three-year research project on the species, showed the stock level at a median estimate of 79 per cent, well above the target reference point of 60 per cent of unfished biomass.
“The healthy state of the east coast fishery is terrific news which has allowed the inshore fishery working group to recommend relaxing the interim management measures introduced in 2019 to protect the species from over-fishing,” Mr Furner said.
“From 1 January 2023, the total allowable catch for commercial fishers will increase to 54 tonnes, and recreational fishers will now be able to fish throughout the year.
“The Queensland Government will also consult with fishery stakeholders on additional management changes such as the implementation of a seasonal spawning closure to align with the identified spawning season.”
Mr Furner said the research project, funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, provided crucial information to help protect the sustainability of black jewfish.
“Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) scientists worked closely with commercial, recreational, indigenous and charter fishers to collect samples and build on their existing knowledge of black jewfish,” Mr Furner said.
“Key findings of the research showed that spawning happens throughout Central Queensland waters from November to February each year, females produce on average around 4.5 million eggs each spawning season, and a large proportion of old fish are still present within the population.
“This crucial data will allow the long-term sustainable management of black jewfish to the benefit of all stakeholders in the fishery.”
Mr Furner said, in May 2019 the Queensland Government introduced the interim management measures for black jewfish to address escalating catches and black marketing of the species due to a rise in market demand for their swim bladders.
“Our responsible approach to managing the fishery ensured it did not become depleted during the time required to understand the status of the stock.” He said.
“Subsequently, the combined response to the change in harvest and scientific research has underlined the value of a science-based management approach.
“Maintaining healthy stocks is a cornerstone of our Sustainable Fisheries Strategy, so we continue to have Queensland seafood on our tables and to protect and sustain thousands of jobs in both the commercial and recreational sectors.”
The stock assessment is available on the DAF website at www.daf.qld.gov.au.