Easternsea Garfish

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Eastern sea garfish (Hyporhamphus australis) are found in sheltered bays, coastal waters, and occasionally in the lower reaches of estuaries from Moreton Bay in Queensland, to Eden in NSW, including Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. They are elongate, marine, surface dwelling fishes with posterior dorsal and anal fins, a deeply forked caudal fin with elongate lower lobe, and with the lower jaw much longer than the upper.

Eastern sea garfish are multiple batch spawners in late spring and early summer (November- December) on the south coast of NSW and in winter and early spring (June-September) on the north coast. They produce relatively large eggs (~2.5 mm diameter) that are covered with filaments of 5 to 10 mm long that allow them to attach to floating or benthic vegetation. Batch fecundity increases linearly with fish length up to approximately 3500 eggs. Eastern sea garfish mature at ~21 cm fork length (measured from the tip of the upper jaw) and at 1 year of age. They have been reported to attain approximately 40 cm fork length and 6 years of age. Females grow faster and attain larger sizes than males.

The fishery for eastern sea garfish in NSW is part of the Ocean Hauling Fishery, and uses garfish hauling nets to target schools of fish. These garfish hauling nets are designed to fish the surface layers and can be used either from boats or the shore; however the majority of fishers are currently boat-based. The fishery is distinctly seasonal, most catches being taken between December and May on the south coast and between March and June on the north coast. Reported annual commercial landings have declined from around 200 t in the early 1990s to less than 40 t in recent years. Recent landings have been dominated (95%) by fish less than 2 years old.

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