Yellowtail Kingfish is a high priority species for recreational fishers and the basis of an important commercial fishery in NSW. The biological stock structure is reasonably well understood, with genetic analyses showing that the population in Western Australia is genetically distinct from the population along the eastern and southern Australian coasts (Commonwealth, Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian waters) and New Zealand. Tagging studies have confirmed movements between Australia and New Zealand and South Australia to NSW. Therefore Yellowtail Kingfish are assessed through the Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) initiative at the biological stock level, being two stocks - Eastern Australia and Western Australia.
The most recent (2018) SAFS assessment for the Eastern Australian biological stock of Yellowtail Kingfish was ‘Undefined’, due mainly to knowledge gaps around the degree of mixing throughout this stock which spans more than 3,000 km of coastline. Reasonable data for assessment exists only within NSW, and uncertainty around whether an assessment of that component of the stock reflected the entire stock resulted in an ‘Undefined’ status, with a recommendation that this uncertainty be resolved.
Yellowtail Kingfish within NSW has been assessed as ‘Growth Overfished’ (2003/04 to 2013/14), and current evidence indicates a Depleted stock. There are ongoing discussions within NSW about appropriate management changes that may assist recovery; however these are hampered by the ‘Undefined’ status in SAFS.
The FRDC National Priority 1 aims to reduce the percentage of ‘Undefined’ stocks within SAFS, which also has an objective of providing a roadmap to recovery for ‘Depleted’ stocks. To address both of these and to promote better and more collaborative monitoring, assessment and management across all relevant jurisdictions, there is a clear need to review existing knowledge across the entire stock and to identify areas of uncertainty that require addressing.