Southern garfish

Southern garfishDistribution

Southern garfish is widely distributed in Australia, extending from southwest Western Australia along the southern coast of mainland Australia and around to southern New South Wales, as well as the waters surrounding Tasmania. In Victoria, most of the commercial catch of southern garfish is from Corner Inlet and most of the recreational catch is from Port Phillip Bay.

Stock structure

There has been no research into the stock structure of southern garfish populations in Victoria. The research on stock structure that has been conducted in other jurisdictions, particularly in South Australia, indicates low levels of dispersal for this species. Southern garfish is currently managed in Victoria as a single biological stock

The national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014 assessed the status of southern garfish at the Victorian state scale.  

Annual catch


Estimated Victorian catch

Commercial (2015/16 fishing year)

35 tonnes

Recreational (statewide estimate from 2000/01 national survey)

 ≈ 26 tonnes 

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

0 tonnes

Estimated total

≈ 61 tonnes

Stock status

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

  1. Stock status: classification of the biological status of garfish in Victoria 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 garfish 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)

Management status

Risk management category



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

The recent Corner Inlet-Nooramunga fishery assessment 2016 identified a significant decrease in commercial catch rate of garfish in the recent year, to well below the long term average

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

Contact The Victorian Fisheries Authority for a copy of the latest Victorian Corner Inlet - Nooramunga Fishery Assessment report.



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

Recent decrease in commercial catch rate in Corner Inlet-Nooramunga indicates that ongoing monitoring is required.

Basis for stock status classification (from SAFS 2014)

Biomass assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that the biomass of this stock was not likely to be recruitment overfished.

Fishing pressure assessment

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

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