Sea mullet stock assessment

Chart of 2022 Australian east coast stock assessment biomass estimates and key management actions for sea mullet

© Queensland Government

Chart of Queensland and NSW estimated retained catch for Australian east coast sea mullet from 1899 to 2020

© Queensland Government

Why did we assess the sea mullet stock?

Sea mullet are key commercial species in Queensland and are managed as a tier 2 species under the east coast inshore fishery harvest strategy: 2021–2026. Fisheries Queensland conducts regular stock assessments on key species.

In 2022, Fisheries Queensland completed a stock assessment using the most current biological and commercial catch data to:

  • determine the sustainability of the sea mullet stock in Queensland and New South Wales
  • inform management decisions in line with the harvest strategy.

This assessment estimated that sea mullet biomass was between 31% and 41% of unfished levels, and most likely at around 37%. This biomass estimate is below the target reference point for sea mullet of 50%.

Why were the 2022 assessment results different to past assessments?

The 2022 assessment analysed data through to December 2020 and made a prediction for the status of the stock at the beginning of 2021. It included more up-to-date data on catches, as well as new biological data such as fish length and age. The previous stock assessment, published in 2019, only analysed data through to December 2016.

Another difference was that the 2019 assessment stock assessment model was custom built by DAF, whereas the 2022 stock assessment model was constructed within a modelling framework called Stock Synthesis as recommended by the independent Sustainable Fisheries Strategy Expert Panel. Stock Synthesis is one of the most widely used and tested stock assessment tools in the world and is currently used by CSIRO and other Australian fisheries jurisdictions.

Next steps for fishery management

The east coast inshore fishery working group provides advice on the management of the east coast inshore fishery and includes representatives from commercial fishers, recreational and charter fishers, the conservation sector, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Read information on the working group.

The working group will consider the stock assessment in 2022 and provide advice on appropriate management options for sea mullet for the 2023 fishing season in line with the harvest strategy.

More information

Access the Stock assessment of Australian east coast sea mullet report.