By introducing a ‘slot limit’, the dusky flathead stock has rebounded to a healthy 48 percent of biomass. Photo: Taylor Pheeney.

Flathead stock healthy

A nation-leading fishery management practice has helped ensure the recovery of the stock of one of Queensland’s favourite fish species.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the latest stock assessment for dusky flathead found the stock was in a healthy condition.

“By introducing a ‘slot limit’, which sets both an upper and lower size limit for catches, the dusky flathead stock has rebounded from around 30 percent of biomass in the early 2000s to a healthy 48 percent currently,” Minister Furner said.

“This is great news for anglers and seafood lovers, as dusky flathead is a bread-and-butter species favoured by many anglers and is also highly valued as a table fish in seafood shops throughout Queensland.

“Having a healthy stock of this much-loved species highlights the value of taking a long-term approach to managing our fishery resources.”

Minister Furner said the population recovery could be largely attributed to the introduction of a ‘slot limit’ for the species, which protects both immature fish and large breeding females.

“Unlike the familiar minimum legal size that applies to many species, the ‘slot limit’ for dusky flathead has both an upper size limit of 75cm and lower size limit of 40cm, so you can only take fish from within that ‘slot’,” Minister Furner said.

“A main benefit of the ‘slot limit’ is that it provides additional protection to large breeding females within the population.”

This management tool for dusky flathead has been followed by other jurisdictions, such as Victoria and more recently NSW.”

Minister Furner said the dusky flathead stock assessment showed the benefits of responsibly managing Queensland’s fisheries.

Management tools such as catch and size limits, closed seasons and spawning closures are key elements in the effort to rebuild fishery stocks, which ultimately benefits many sectors of the community.

“Rebuilding stocks is only possible with the hard work and cooperation of all sectors of the seafood industry, including those who supply data on catch and effort, and important biological samples for data on fish age, growth and reproduction, and I thank all who have contributed,” Minister Furner said.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to implementing the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy to ensure fish stocks will be sustainable, so we continue to have Queensland seafood on our tables and to protect and sustain thousands of good jobs in both the commercial and recreational sectors.”

The dusty flathead stock assessment is available at daf.qld.gov.au

For information on Queensland’s fishing regulations, visit fisheries.qld.gov.au, call 13 25 23 or download the free ‘Qld Fishing 2.0’ app from Apple and Google app stores.

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