Latin names: Sarda australis
Common Names: Bonito
Wild Caught - Australia
- NSW Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (~175t 2008-09)
Australian bonito is caught in the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (OTLF) that operates off the NSW coastline. Bonito are caught using a variety of line methods, including handline, set line and driftline. The species is also a key target for recreational fishers. Commercial catches of Australian bonito have been relatively stable over the past decade.
While bonito is a fast-growing species that matures quickly and is relatively resilient to overfishing, there are significant concerns over other species also caught in this fishery. Mulloway is classed by the NSW government as ‘overfished’ and yellowtail kingfish, snapper and silver trevally are ‘growth overfished’, which means that the larger, reproductively mature fish have been already fished out and juvenile fish now form the bulk of the catch. In this situation, the long-term sustainability of the species and therefore the fishery is in doubt.
The bycatch of threatened and protected species associated with the fishery is also a main concern. Hammerhead sharks, which are listed as protected under NSW legislation, are caught and killed in the fishery, as well as endangered grey nurse and great white sharks and green turtles.
Sharks that are not listed as protected under Federal or NSW State law can be retained for sale, including sandbar and dusky sharks. These sharks are large, slow to mature and late to reproduce, meaning they are extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure. Although fishery managers have set limits on the number of sharks that can be retained, these limits are not based on scientific assessments of the stock status of affected shark species, as there is limited information on the population status of many sharks.
Accessing information from this fishery has proved difficult. Many of the stock assessments and information on shark catches is from fisheries information from 2008-09.