Title:

Assessing the population biology of Black Jewfish (Protonibea diacanthus) in Queensland

Project Number:

2019-056

Organisation:

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries EcoScience Precinct

Principal Investigator:

Samuel Williams

Project Status:

Current

FRDC Expenditure:

$321,754.00

Program(s):

Environment, Industry

Need

In 2018, black jewfish in QLD were assessed as “undefined” under the Status of Australian Fish Stocks reporting framework due to insufficient information available to confidently classify the stock. Basic biological and genetic information is required to enable a robust assessment of this species in QLD. Information including stock structure, fecundity, age, growth and maturity is required to ensure Fisheries Queensland can make evidence-based decisions regarding the management of this stock. Information on the connectivity among stocks throughout Queensland waters is also fundamental to ensuring that TACCs are set appropriately across management units in the East Coast inshore fishery. In the Northern Territory (NT) where recent biological research has been used to inform the assessment and management of the black jewfish, stocks are now defined as “recovering”. While stock structure information has been obtained for this species for most of north-western Australia (FRDC 2013/017), that work did not extend to Queensland waters and as a result there is an absence of information on black jewfish stock structure in Queensland waters. Additionally, a research project (FRDC 2018/027) underway in the NT aims to improve stock assessments on the species by understanding the influence of the environment on population productivity. Learnings from FRDC 2018/027 have been used to inform the most appropriate biological information needed to assess the Queensland stock (such as the need for fecundity estimates), and it is anticipated that the two projects will have two-way feedback to allow progress in stock assessments of black jewfish nation-wide. Given the high value of black jewfish swim bladders and the absence of a stock assessment to inform sustainable levels of pressure, the TACC of 20t may be underutilising the resource, resulting in potentially millions of dollars in lost revenue. In addition, the recreational sector is also currently restricted to targeting the species only while the TACC is unfilled, effectively reducing the season to a 1 month period. Providing updated biological information to inform the assessment and management of black jewfish in Queensland is critical.

Objectives

1. Determine the stock structure and connectivity of black jewfish throughout Queensland

2. Assess the age structure, fecundity, and size-at-maturity for black jewfish populations on the East Coast of Queensland