Latin names: Lates calcarifer
Common Names: Barra
Wild Caught - Australia
- QLD East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (254t 2010)
- QLD Gulf of Carpentaria Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (975t 2011)
Barramundi is caught mainly using gillnets in two Queensland-managed fisheries operating off the eastern and Gulf coasts.
All of the indicators the fishery uses to monitor stocks of barramundi suggest QLD's stocks are healthy; for example recent volumes of fish caught are similar to those of long-term catch records. The concern with these fisheries is not the stock status, but significant bycatch of threatened species.
In both fisheries, a number of threatened species are caught as bycatch, including green, loggerhead, flatback and leatherback turtles, dugongs, sawfish and a number of shark species, including hammerhead sharks.
Sectors of both fisheries also catch some species of sharks as target species within the fisheries, despite the lack of information on stock status of many of the species that are caught. There is limited information on much of the basic biology of many of the species targeted, for example, information on age at maturity, frequency of reproduction and number of young produced. This lack of knowledge is particularly concerning as shark species are generally long-lived, are slow to mature and produce few young; this means shark populations are highly vulnerable to population depletions as a result of fishing activity. Sharks are also apex predators that are essential to the maintenance of healthy marine food webs.
Fisheries managers in QLD have also reported inconsistencies between fisheries logbook records and information from independent observers, including differences between the number, rate and type of protected species interactions. There is a high probability that protected species bycatch is actually higher than reported as observers have recorded greater levels of bycatch than generally reported in logbooks.
Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions. Unfortunately the QLD Government has closed the observer program for all QLD managed fisheries. This is of particular concern in fisheries that interact with threatened species as since there is no record of actual protected species interactions over time, the ecological impacts of the fishery cannot be measured or managed.