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I & I NSW

Wild Fisheries research Program

Goatfish
(Mullidae)
Exploitation Status

uNDEFINED

Small quantities (20 - 40 t annually) taken incidentally in prawn and fish trawls. Assessment is constrained
by lack of biological information.
Scientific name

Standard name

comment

Upeneichthys lineatus

bluestriped goatfish

More than 80% of NSW catch.

Parupeneus spilurus

blacksaddle goatfish

Upeneus tragula

bartail goatfish

Upeneichthys lineatus
Image Bernard Yau

Background
At least three species of goatfishes, popularly
known as red mullet or barbounia, are included
in the NSW catch. It is estimated that 80% or
more of the catch consists of the bluestriped
goatfish (Upeneichthys lineatus), a small fish
measuring mainly between 15 and 20 cm in
length. Also landed are small numbers of the
larger blacksaddled goatfish (Parupeneus spilurus)
which can grow to more than 40 cm, and the
slender bartailed goatfish (Upeneus tragula)
which seldom exceeds 15 cm. The bartailed and
blacksaddled goatfishes are tropical species
with ranges extending to central NSW while
the bluestriped goatfish is endemic to eastern
Australia between southern Queensland and
southern NSW.
Goatfishes typically inhabit inshore waters
where they feed on soft sandy areas of seabed
using strong barbels on the underside of their

mouth to dig and to sense small prey. There


have been no studies into the biology of any
NSW species. Size composition data were
collected during trawl surveys of king prawn
and fish-trawling grounds by Fisheries Research
Vessel Kapala, and some length data are
available from commercial landings.
Annual landings of goatfish by NSW ocean
trawlers are mostly between 20 and 30 t with
most of the catch taken as by-product of prawn
trawling. Red mullet are also landed in small
quantities by the southern Queensland prawntrawl fishery, and it is estimated that less than
1 t is taken annually by NSW recreational
fishers. No stock assessment has been
undertaken for any goatfish species in NSW and
the species composition of the catch has not
been accurately determined.

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1.0
0.8
0.6
0.0

Size composition data from recent


commercial catch monitoring of bluestriped
goatfish was compared with data from
research trawls and no trends were apparent.

0.4

Bluestriped goatfish is a widely distributed


inshore species.

Relative Catch Rate

There are three species in this reporting


group, though bluestriped goatfish
(Upeneichthys lineatus) is most commonly
landed.

Catch Per Unit Effort Information of Goatfish


Harvested by Ocean Prawn Trawling in NSW

0.2

Additional Notes

Catch

93/94

98/99

03/04

08/09

Financial Year

Recreational Catch of Goatfish


The annual recreational harvest of goatfish in
NSW is likely to be less than one tonne.

30

Length Frequency of Bluestriped Goatfish

0.10

0.15

2004/052006/07
n = 1303

0.05

Proportion

20
0

10

Landings (t)

40

50

Historical Landings of Goatfish

Catch rates of goatfish harvested using ocean prawn


trawling for NSW. Two indicators are provided: (1) median
catch rate (lower solid line); and (2) 90th percentile of
the catch rate (upper dashed line). Note that catch rates
are not a robust indicator of abundance in many cases.
Caution should be applied when interpreting these
results.

90/91 92/93 94/95 96/97 98/99 00/01 02/03 04/05 06/07 08/09

Financial Year
0.00

Commercial landings (including available historical


records) of goatfish for NSW from 1990/91 to 2008/09 for
all fishing methods.

10

20

Ocean Prawn Trawl (Key Secondary Species)

30

10

15

20

25

FL (cm)

The length distribution of bluestriped goatfish landed


by NSW commercial fishers in recent years has shown a
single mode, with the majority of fish being between 15
and 20 cm fork length (FL). Blue striped goatfish do not
have a minimum legal length.

10

20

Landings (t)

40

0.00

50

0.05

Fish Trawl (Key Secondary Species)

0.10

Proportion

Ocean Trap and Line

25

2007/08
n = 182

0.15

Landings by Commercial Fishery of Goatfish

15

97/98

99/00

01/02

03/04

05/06

07/08

Financial Year

Reported landings of goatfish by NSW commercial


fisheries from 1997/98. Fisheries which contribute less
than 2.5% of the landings are excluded for clarity and
privacy.

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Fur ther Reading


Curley, B.G., M.J. Kingsford and B.M. Gillanders (2002).
Spatial and habitat related patterns of temperate
reef fish assemblages: implications for the design
of Marine Protected Areas. Marine and Freshwater
Research 53: 1197-1210.
Hutchins, B. and R. Swainston (1999). Sea Fishes of
Southern Australia - Complete Field Guide for
Anglers and Divers. Smithfield, NSW, Gary Allen Pty
Ltd.
Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt,
A. McNee and C. Grieve, Eds. (1993). Australian
Fisheries Resources. Canberra, Australia, Bureau
of Resource Sciences, Department of Primary
Industries and Energy, and the Fisheries Research
and Development Corporation.
Kuiter, R.H. (1993). Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern
Australia. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press.
Platell, M.E., I.C. Potter and K.R. Clarke (1998). Do
the habitats, mouth morphology and diets of the
mullids Upeneichthys stotti and U. lineatus in coastal
waters of south-western Australia differ? Journal of
Fish Biology 52: 398-418.
Please visit the CSIRO website,
http://www.marine.csiro.au/caab/ and search for
the species code (CAAB) 37 355001, 37 355015, and
37355014, common name or scientific name to find
further information.

State of New South Wales through Industry and Investment NSW 2010. You may copy,
distribute and otherwise freely deal with this publication for any purpose, provided that you
attribute Industry and Investment NSW as the owner.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding
at the time of writing (April 2010). However, because of advances in knowledge, users are
reminded of the need to ensure that information upon which they rely is up to date and to check
currency of the information with the appropriate officer of Industry and Investment NSW or the
users independent adviser.

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