Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Post-release survival of black jewfish Protonibea diacanthus (#76)

adam barnett 1 , Samuel Williams 2 , Jonathan Mitchell 2 , Carlo Mattone 1 , Leanne Currey-Randall 3 , Stacy Bierwagen 3 , Marcus Sheaves 1
  1. College of Science & engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, QlD, Australia
  2. Agri-Science Queensland , Department of Agriculture and Fisheries , Brisbane, QlD, Australia
  3. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, QlD, Australia

Black jewfish Protonibea diacanthus, have recently experienced large increases in targeting by commercial fisheries throughout Australian waters due to strong demand and value for their swim bladders in the Chinese wellness market. The large swim bladders of black jewfish also make them highly susceptible to barotrauma, and as a result they have been associated with high post-release mortality rates for fish captured in waters deeper than 10m. Current survival estimates are based on assumed fate derived from barotrauma associated injuries observed during necropsy, and low recapture rates in recreational tag and release programs. Targeting jewfish for catch and release fishing has been, therefore, discouraged and some jurisdictions have removed minimum size limits to reduce the number of releases fish. Jewfish are currently being acoustically tracked as part of the Integrated Marine Observing System Queensland-wide acoustic telemetry array project. Using the data available so far, we evaluated the post-release survival of jewfish. Preliminary results suggest much higher survival rates than previously reported. Releasing the fish as fast as possible after capture and using a release weight are likely key factors for increasing fish survival and welfare. Tagging and tracking jewfish is ongoing, but so far results suggest that this project will provide improved estimates of post-release mortality, that can be incorporated into stock assessments. Results will also provide recommendations for best handling and release practices, in particular regarding the use of release weights.