Bigeye Ocean Perch

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Five species of ocean perches (family Sebastidae) are found offshore along the NSW coast but two species comprise the bulk of the landings. The reef ocean perch (Helicolenus percoides) is distributed across the continental shelf and onto the upper slope in depths between about 80 and 350 m while the bigeye ocean perch (H. barathri) is an upper-slope species found in 250-800 m. The deepsea ocean perch (Trachyscorpia capensis) occurs mostly in midslope depths greater than 800m and, because there is little fishing at such depths off NSW, few deepsea ocean perch are caught locally. Two similiar species (Neosebastes incisipinnis and N. scorpaenoides) are smaller fish which occur closer inshore, and are sometimes caught incidentally by trawl fishers.

The two species of Helicolenus found off NSW are very similar in appearance. However, the ‘inshore’ reef ocean perch tends to be orange in colour with small dark spots on the head and more defined darker vertical bands on the body, compared to the ‘offshore’ bigeye ocean perch which has a more overall pink-red colouration with greenish flecks on the scales. The reef ocean perch seldom exceeds 30 cm in length and is commonly 20-25 cm, whereas the bigeye ocean perch can reach more than 40 cm in length (1.5 kg) and live for 60 years. Most catches of bigeye ocean perch now comprise fish in the 25-35 cm range which are less than 15 years of age kamagra oral jelly.

Ocean perch are lecithotrophic viviparous, meaning that egg fertilization and larvae development occur inside the female fish. The larvae are released when they reach about 1 mm in length. The ocean perch breeding season extends from June to November and a single female can produce between 150,000 to 200,000 larvae per season. Ocean perch are ambush predators, rising quickly from the ocean floor to capture prey. Main food sources for ocean perch are royal red prawns, squid and smaller fish.

Ocean perch inhabit reef and areas of flat, hard seabed. Commercial catches are primarily taken by trawl although the quantity taken by line fishing methods is increasing. The two species of Helicolenus are important trawl fish around south-east australia and the annual total allowable catch (TaC) for ocean perch (combined for the two species) in the Commonwealth managed Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery is around 500 t; the actual bigeye ocean perch catch is about 250 t and the catch of reef ocean perch, mostly taken south of NSW, is around 50-100t. Because of its generally small size, relatively large quantities of reef ocean perch are discarded.

Information sourced from DPI

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