The Coral Sea Fishery is managed through input and output controls including limited entry, catch limits, spatial closures, move-on provisions and size limits.

Target species

The species targeted by commercial fishers in the Coral Sea Fishery are:

  • Black teatfish (Holothuria whitmaei)
  • Prickly redfish (Thelenota ananas)
  • Surf redfish (Actinapyga mauritiana)
  • White teatfish (Actinapyga mauritiana)
  • Greenfish  (Stichopus chloronotus)
  • Lollyfish  (Holothuria atra)
  • Aquarium fishes (Osteichthyes sp.)
  • Tropical rock lobster (Panulirus ornatus)
  • Trochus (Trochus niloticus)

Black teatfish
Sustainable
Prickly redfish
Sustainable
Aquarium fishes
Sustainable
Surf redfish
Sustainable
Tropical rock lobster
Sustainable
White teatfish
Uncertain

About the fishery


Catch and effort allowance

Sea Cucumber Sector
Species 2013-14 actual catch (tonnes) 2014-15 total allowable catch (tonnes)
Black teatfish 0.52 1
Prickly redfish 3.2 20
Surf redfish 0.21 10
White teatfish 4.04 4
Greenfish and lollyfish (any combination) 0 10
Other sea cucumber species (~11 species) 0.24 10
Aquarium Sector 
Species 2013-14 actual specimens Specimens
Aquarium Sector (>500 species) 28 708 40 000
Lobster and Trochus Sector
Species 2013-14 actual catch (tonnes) 2014-15 total allowable catch (tonnes)
Tropical rock lobster 0 30
Trochus species 0 30
Line, Trap and Trawl Sector
Species 2013-14 actual catch (tonnes) 2014-15 total allowable catch (tonnes)
Finfish and shark species 9.11 30

Download raw data on annual catches from AFMA catch disposal records and AFMA daily fishing logbooks.

Total fishery value

Confidential.

Fishing gear

A variety of gear is used in the Coral Sea Fishery, including:

Location

The Coral Sea Fishery extends from Cape York to Sandy Cape in Queensland. It is bounded on the east by the Australian Fishing Zone and on the west by a boundary line 10 to 100 nm east of the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Major landing ports

  • Mooloolaba
  • Townsville
  • Cairns.

Markets supplied

  • Domestic: fish products (fresh, frozen); aquarium species (live)
  • International: South-East Asia (dried sea cucumber [bêche-de-mer]); worldwide (live aquarium species).

Fishing season

12 month season, beginning 1 July.

Management of catch

The Coral Sea Fishery has five sectors that are managed through input and output controls including limited entry, catch limits, spatial closures, move-on provisions, size limits and catch-and-effort triggers that are used to initiate further analysis and assessment.

  1. Trawl and Trap Sector
  2. Lobster and Trochus Sector
  3. Line and Trap Sector
  4. Aquarium Sector
  5. Sea Cucumber Sector.

Licence to fish

Fishers must hold permits to fish in this fishery.  Fishers can only catch species associated with the type of permit they hold.

The fishery has 16 limited entry permits:

  • 8 in the Line and Trap Sector
  • 2 in the Aquarium Sector
  • 2 in the Sea Cucumber Sector
  • 2 in the Lobster and Trochus Sector
  • 2 in the Trawl and Trap Sector.

Collecting data

Data about the catch and effort of the fishery is collected from the logbooks fishers fill out for every fishing shot.

Logbooks record:

  • the species and amount caught
  • catch that is discarded
  • the catch/release of any protected species and their life status
  • set and haul times of each shot
  • the location of each shot
  • the type and amount of gear used.

Species sustainability

The Coral Sea Fishery comprises several sectors with a wide range of species targeted. The species composition of the catch varies significantly over time. Due to the vast number of species that are targeted in the fishery, many of the stocks have not been assessed.

Species risk assessments

AFMA regularly monitor the effects fishing activities have on marine species, habitats and communities through ecological risk assessments. The assessment results help to prioritise the management, research, data collection and monitoring needs for the fishery.

After the risk assessment is complete, an ecological risk management strategy is developed to address how AFMA will manage marine species, habitats and communities identified in the assessment as greatly impacted by commercial fishing operations.

View the most recent assessment and strategies for the Coral Sea Fishery.

Bycatch work plans

The Coral Sea Fishery Bycatch and Discarding Workplan aims to minimise interactions with bycatch species. These include sharks, discarded quota species and protected species that have been identified through the ecological risk assessment framework.

Go to the Coral Sea Fishery Bycatch and Discard Workplan.

Harvest strategy

A harvest strategy is used to help determine what the quota should be for the target species of the fishery. Fishing, environmental and economic information is included in the harvest strategy, which helps to monitor and maintain the sustainability of the targeted species.

The Coral Sea Fishery has the following harvest strategies:

  • Aquarium Sector
  • Lobster and Trochus Sector
  • Sea Cucumber Sector
  • Line, Trawl and Trap Sector.

All harvest strategies are developed in line with the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy and Guidelines.

View the Coral Sea Fishery Harvest Strategies.

Export approval

To export from an Australian commercial fishery, the fishery must be accredited by the Department of the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Marine reserves

Commonwealth marine reserves are areas established under Australian environment law to help conserve the spectacular marine life in our oceans. They allow ecologically sustainable use of our marine resources and provide special places for people to enjoy and appreciate the fantastic diversity of our marine habitats.

Marine reserves are sometimes known as marine protected areas or marine parks and are managed by the Department of the Environment.

More information about marine reserves can be found on the Department of the Environment website.

Fishing in the fishery

Fishing operators wanting to fish in the fishery must hold a permit.

Download a copy of the latest Coral Sea Fishery Management Arrangements Booklet for a full description of all fishing requirements in the fishery.

Fishery legislation

Harvest strategy

The objectives of the Coral Sea Fishery harvest strategies are to keep stocks within the fishery at ecologically sustainable levels and, within that context, maximise the economic returns to the Australian community, and to pursue efficient and cost-effective management.

We recognise that fisheries management involves a broad range of stakeholders.

Here are just a few ways we are working with our stakeholders, who include industry, scientists, environmental groups and the community for an informed approach to fisheries management.

Fishing industry

There have not been any recent port visits due to minimising costs while the Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review, incorporating the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, is underway.

Coral Sea Fishery Stakeholder Group

The Coral Sea Fishery Stakeholder Group is the key body providing advice to AFMA on management and research issues in the Coral Sea Fishery. The stakeholder group is composed of fishery scientists, fishery industry members, AFMA representatives, state government representatives, environmental non-government organisation representatives and recreational representatives.

There have been no recent meetings of this group pending announcement of the fishing methods and areas permitted in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

Government departments

AFMA works closely with other government departments, such as the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Department of the Environment. They help in providing advice and guidance on both domestic and international fisheries issues.

State governments

The Australian state governments manage fishing from the Australian coast out to 3 nm. Occasionally there is some overlap in fishing operations between the state and commonwealth jurisdictions and AFMA regularly communicates with the state fisheries agencies to manage any problems.

Representatives from the state fisheries agencies also attend the Coral Sea Fishery Stakeholder Group meetings to provide expert advice.

Environmental non-government organisations

Representatives from environmental non-government organisations are engaged through several forums to provide advice on research and management issues in the Coral Sea Fishery.

  • AFMA holds 2 to 3 environmental forums annually.
  • There are representatives on the Coral Sea Fishery Stakeholder Group.
Map of the Coral Sea Fishery

Coral Sea Fishery map

AFMA uses many methods to monitor the compliance of fishing activities and collect data on fish stocks. These include:

Onboard observers

One of the main monitoring methods used by AFMA is onboard scientific observers. Observers are people employed by AFMA to go out on boats and independently record catch, effort and biological information of each fishing trip.

They take samples from fish, such as the otoliths or ear bones, and these are used later to determine the age of the fish caught.

Observers also record the length, weight and sex of a sample of the fish caught during a trip and report on the other wildlife that may be seen, the weather conditions, the composition of commercial catch fate of species that are caught as bycatch.

Boats in the Coral Sea Fishery must carry an AFMA observer when requested by AFMA.

Read more about the Observer program.

Satellite tracking

A satellite monitoring system called a Vessel Monitoring System, or VMS for short, is fitted on all concession holders boats. This system helps AFMA to monitor vessel position, course and speed. The system regularly transmits the information to a database at AFMA.

Read more about our Satellite vessel tracking and monitoring program.

Cameras on fishing boats – electronic monitoring

AFMA has electronic monitoring systems on some fishing boats. These systems have sensors linked to surveillance cameras that record fishing activity. These recordings can then be collected and monitored by AFMA. Electronic monitoring gives fishers a cost effective way to support monitoring and data collection.

Read more about electronic monitoring of fishing boats.