New kingfish research indicates single stock across south-eastern Australia

Image: Victorian Fisheries Authority

PRIOR to the early 1990’s, yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) were commonly caught by recreational anglers at various offshore locations across Victoria, primarily in the warmer months. While the historic abundance of yellowtail kingfish in VIC waters was not as high as in New South Wales waters, the fish were often very large (up to 30+ kg), particularly around the entrance to Port Phillip Bay (‘The Rip’).

During the mid-1990’s both the number and size of yellowtail kingfish taken by recreational anglers in Victorian waters decreased dramatically. This was also observed in the commercial sector where 2–12 tonnes were landed between 1980 and 1993, which then dramatically dropped.

Consequently, interest in targeting yellowtail kingfish declined. The low availability of yellowtail kingfish to Victorian anglers continued until about 2010 when exceptional yellowtail kingfish catches during summer and autumn were reported. It is clear from the resurgence of targeted recreational fishing that their availability has increased considerably over the last decade.

As part of a yellowtail kingfish research project funded by Victorian fishing licence fees, fisheries scientists collected DNA from fin and muscle samples of 168 kingfish captured by recreational fishers along the Victorian coast. Samples were also provided from NSW Fisheries and the University of Tasmania.

Genetic analysis supported by other evidence such as similar growth rates, reproductive traits and movement patterns of yellowtail kingfish suggest a single stock across south-eastern Australian waters.

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