Dusky flathead

Dusky flatheadDistribution

Dusky flathead can be found in inshore waters along the East coast of Australia, from Cairns in Queensland to Gippsland Lakes in Victoria.

Stock structure

The biological stock structure of dusky flathead populations is unknown. Dusky flathead is managed in Victoria as a single biological stock, although this may change in the future. Until 2013, the different flathead species were managed under the same regulations in Victoria due to difficulties with species identification. 

The national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014 assessed the status of dusky flathead at the Victorian state scale. The assessment was based on Gippsland Lakes, where most dusky flathead are caught.  

Annual catch


Estimated Victorian catch

Commercial (2015/16 fishing year)

13 tonnes

Recreational (statewide estimate from 2000/01 national survey)


Indigenous (i.e. 2015/16 customary fishing permits

 0 tonnes 

Estimated total

>13 tonnes

Stock status

The table below summarises and explains the status and management of dusky flathead based on: 

  1. Stock status: classification of the biological status of dusky flathead in Victoria (based on Gippsland Lakes information) as at 2013, taken from the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.
    Read more here about the SAFS assessment approach and classification system.
  2. Management settings: overview of current management arrangements in Victorian waters, including any recent changes that may affect stock status.
  3. Risk management category: The Victorian Fisheries Authority's overall, qualitative assessment of current risk to stock status in Victorian waters taking into account management arrangements, based on the best information currently available:

    Red Red - current management measures may not be sufficient to prevent stock depletion
    Amber Amber - current management measures expected to mitigate risk of stock depletion
    Green Green - stock status not of concern under current management

The stock status classification, management settings and risk management category for dusky flathead are all at the scale of Victorian waters. Stock status is based only on sustainability. Management settings and risk management category also consider the steps taken to address stock status. 

Management settings are also influenced by social and economic factors, and can take some time to affect a stock's status. This can depend on biological and environmental factors as well as the type and level of management changes implemented.

Stock status (2013 data)

Key management settings

Risk management category



Commercial harvest is predominantly managed by limited entry licensing, restrictions on size and gear and by limited restrictions on fishing locations. Recreational fishers are subject to gear and bag limits

A slot limit of 30–55cm was introduced in 2012 following concerns about declining abundance of large breeding dusky flathead. Improvements to the effectiveness of new types of angling gear have led to increased monitoring of this species by The Victorian Fisheries Authority.

Read more about the fishing methods and rules for dusky flathead in Victoria.



Collectively, the following data provide evidence that this stock is sustainable. 

Available information does not indicate stock status concerns.

Basis for stock status classification (from SAFS 2014)

Biomass assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that the biomass of the stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

Fishing pressure assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

Read more here about the assessment of dusky flathead stock status as at 2013 in the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.