Additional management action is needed to ensure that the King George Whiting stocks of Spencer Gulf and Gulf St. Vincent/Kangaroo Island regions return to a sustainable status and to manage recreational catches within the allocated catch shares in the Management Plan for the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery. Although spawning spatial closures have been identified as a management option for the fishery, the relative benefit of their proposed locations (i.e. Corny Point and Tapley Shoal) in protecting spawning productivity is unknown. Similarly it is not understood how key spawning grounds south of the gulf support the regional stocks. There is, therefore, a fundamental need to characterise these spawning aggregations from an ecological, economic and social perspective to ensure that they are designed and implemented appropriately.
The current ‘transitional-depleting’ status assigned to the gulf stocks is predominantly based on commercial catch and effort data integrated with limited information from the recreational and charter boat sectors. Given the recent changes in the fishing fleet dynamics which includes an increase in the allocation of catch by the recreational sector (by ~ 10%) (see Giri & Hall, 2015) and the increased pressure on spawning fish, there is a need to develop a fishery-independent means of assessing biomass to enhance future assessments of stock status.
Given the multi-sectorial use of the resource and South Australia’s government commitment in maintaining quality recreational fishing opportunities; ensuring the continued supply of commercially harvested premium seafood; and to uphold allocated shares among the sectors, there is a need to develop and foster a representative steering committee that is committed to achieving the objectives, outcomes, adoption and extension of this project.