Better understanding of gemfish stocks in the Great Australian Bight

Research to underpin better understanding and management of western gemfish stocks in the Great Australian Bight


Andy Moore (ABARES, Commonwealth Government)


Jenny Ovenden

Funding body

Supported by funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) on behalf of the Australian Government ( 2013/014) and Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).


Western gemfish (western stock of gemfish) are caught predominantly in the Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (GABTS) and Commonwealth Trawl Sector (CTS) of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). Western gemfish have historically been an important stock for both fisheries and they remain an important component today. Eastern gemfish have been heavily exploited with peak catches approximately 25 times greater than GABTS catches and approximately 18 times larger than those in the CTS. The high level of exploitation in the eastern stock resulted in a reduction of spawning biomass to below the harvest strategy policy (HSP) limit of 20% of unfished biomass. Targeted fishing for eastern gemfish ceased in 1998, but recovery has not ensued. The western stock is managed via a total allowable catch (TAC) in the CTS, and catch triggers in the GABTS, however the majority of the stock may reside within the GABTS. Adequate management strategies that are based on the biology and ecology of biological stocks are required to underpin sustainable management of this resource.

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