Boom times ahead for King George Whiting

VERY high numbers of baby King George whiting have been recorded in fisheries surveys of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, for the second consecutive year, which is great news for whiting stocks and recreational anglers who hold the species in high regard on the table and as a sportfish.

Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Fisheries Authority, Travis Dowling, said anglers could expect sensational fishing from 2019 to 2021 when juvenile whiting detected in 2016 and 2017 will have grown to catchable size.

“Scientists have conducted annual surveys of small juvenile whiting in the bay’s seagrass beds since 1998 to help forecast the abundance of stocks and manage the fishery sustainably,” Mr Dowling said.

“The survey results from Port Phillip Bay also provide an indication of what can be expected in the years ahead in other Victorian bays, including Western Port and Corner Inlet.”

Mr Dowling said that adult whiting reside in coastal waters and the tiny whiting larvae drift eastward from spawning grounds, most likely off far western Victoria and eastern South Australia, for approximately three months before entering our bays and estuaries during spring when scientists conduct the surveys. 

“Westerly winds help drive the currents that bring the whiting larvae into our bays, where they take about two years to reach the legal minimum size of 27 cm. 

“At about four years of age, most whiting have left the bays to complete their adult life in coastal waters.

“Because whiting only reside in the bays for a few years of their life, these fisheries naturally fluctuate depending on the number of tiny larvae that entered the bays several years prior.

“People fishing outside the bays along the coast can expect increased catches of larger whiting during the early 2020s, as maturing fish move out to coastal waters.”

Victorian anglers are reminded that there is a daily bag limit of 20 King George whiting applies per person and they must be landed whole or in carcass form.

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