Key Things You Need To Know:
- There hasn’t been a revision of bag or size limits for Dusky Flathead in NSW for years, despite growing fishing pressure, anglers become more efficient at taking flathead and advances in our understanding of the species.
- Flathead are currently listed as sustainable in NSW, but angler data from trophy flathead fisheries is showing a decline in the bigger specimens.
- The recovery of flathead following the removal of nets from recreational fishing havens has plateaued and big fish are not increasing in size or number, indicating recreational pressure is taking it’s toll.
- Female flathead are not protected by current size limits (36cm) because they don’t mature until around 57-58cm in length. Many fish are being removed from the system before they have the opportunity to spawn.
- Big flathead can produce millions of eggs per year (700 eggs per gram of body weight) and contrary to popular myth, those eggs are viable and make important contributions to the recruitment and genetics of fish stocks. The removal of big female flathead can reduce the recruitment of juvenile fish but can also damage the resilience of the overall population.
- The number of flathead over 70cm taken by commercial fishers is exceedingly small and whilst it would be great to reduce this take, the damage is far less than for recreational anglers who actively target very large fish.
- Whilst flathead produce millions of eggs, the survival rate is quite low. There are great flathead stocking programs now and they are an important tool for fisheries managers, but they are no a silver bullet. The cost and practicality of rearing millions of juvenile fish mean that facilitating natural spawning and recruitment is a far better option. with restocking to supplement stocks as required.