Communique 6 October 2022

The east coast inshore fishery working group met online on 6 October 2022 for an out of session meeting to discuss the findings of the black jewfish stock assessment and to provide advice in line with the harvest strategy.

Rachel Janes (Stock Assessment Scientist, Fisheries Queensland) provided members with a presentation and summary of key findings of the black jewfish stock assessment.

The working group discussed the total allowable catch (TAC – all sectors) for 2023 season, to commence on 1 January 2023. Members all agreed with the precautionary approach of setting the TAC at 90 tonnes for the 2023 season, as recommended in the stock assessment. 

Noting the complex history of recreational and commercial catch shares for black jew fish, members debated initial sectoral catch share allocation to inform the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) for the 2023 fishing season. The recreational members’ support for catch share was either 40:60 or 50:50 (per cent, commercial:recreational), with most supporting 50:50. It was generally agreed amongst the commercial members to support 70:30 (per cent commercial:recreational). Depending on the outcome of the sectoral catch shares, the TACC would therefore range between 36 tonnes (40% commercial) and 63 tonnes (70% commercial).

The members agreed that recreational fishing access no longer be linked to the TACC, and that black jewfish would remain open to the recreational sector regardless of if the TACC was reached.

The working group reinforced the importance to implement bladder tagging to help address black marketing issues.

Most members supported a temporal spawning closure to complement the recommendation of increasing the TAC. The black jewfish research project confirmed that the species spawn over four months (November – February) and this would be considered the optimal scientific window for protecting spawning stock. However, from a practical point of view, many members showed strong support for the spawning closure to align with the barramundi closure. 

The GBRMPA member noted that the full four-month temporal spawning closure as recommended by the stock assessment as critical to increasing the harvest of the species.

Some recreational members noted that increasing the recreational in-possession limits (from one fish per person to three fish per person) with consideration of a limit of 1 fish more than 120cm could be an option in the future.

The working group appreciated having robust scientific results to inform the discussion and future decisions of the fishery. 

Apologies for this meeting were: Simon Miller, Brett Depper, Jason Thompson, Matt Vujica, Justin Meagher, Ben Coyne, Brian Singleton.

The east coast inshore fishery working group members are: Fisheries Queensland (Fill in Chair – Sue Helmke, Principal Fishery Manager – Tony Ham, Senior Fishery Manager – Jeffrey Ikin, A/Fishery Manager – Cherelle Broughton, QBFP – District Manager - Brett Depper and Investigator - Robert Marsh, Agri-Science Queensland – Samuel Williams), commercial fishing (Jason Thomson, Benjamin Coyne, Daniel Atherton, and Nathan Rynn), recreational fishing (John Bennett, Ken Davis, Kim Martin, Rhyce Bullimore and Phil Laycock), seafood processor/wholesaler (Matt Vujica), conservation (Simon Miller), Department of Environment and Science (Justin Meager), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Thomas Hatley) and Indigenous fishing (Brian Singleton).