5,000 steps forward in developing a yellowtail kingfish stocking program in a WA first

Keen metropolitan recfishers’ prospects of landing a powerful yellowtail kingfish have been boosted, after Recfishwest helped release 5,000 juveniles from Fremantle as part of a WA-first initiative.

Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research (ACAAR) staff and Recfishwest have released 5,000 yellowtail kingfish from South Mole at Fremantle to mark the first time that cultured yellowtail kingfish have been released in WA.

The release came on the back of Recfishwest working in the background to ensure the 5,000 fish, which are renowned for their hard-fighting capabilities, were released to offset 75 wild kingfish that were taken from west of Rottnest Island for aquaculture breeding purposes at ACAAR’s hatchery.

One of these x 5,000 = a great result for the recfishing community! CEO Dr Andrew Rowland with one of the soon to be released kingies.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said releasing the 5,000 kingfish was a terrific result for the State’s recfishing community, given fish stocking was a critical fishery enhancement tool.

“I’m sure you can do the maths, but that’s a ratio of more than 60 fish going back into the fishery for every one taken,” he said.

“Now, of course, there’s no guarantee that all those juvenile fish will make it into adulthood, but they have already made it through the most fragile part of their life-cycle and we know kingfish are excellent predators even at this size so their chances of survival are very good.

“Also, given yellowtail kingfish – members of the Seriola family, which includes Samson fish and amberjacks – are fast-growing, hardy fish, the odds are stacked even more in their favour for surviving and contributing to this exciting fishery.”

Yellowtail kingfish – a hard-fighting fish which also boast great table quality – have the capacity to grow nearly 5kg in only 18 months, making the species a great candidate for recfishing stocking purposes.

DPIRD Research Scientist Lindsey Woolley at the hatchery.

Dr Rowland said Recfishwest “were quick to press this point home” and highlight yellowtail kingfish’s restocking importance having learned about ACAAR’s plans to take the 75 fish from the ocean to use as breeding stock for the aquaculture industry. He added it was pleasing that the concerns were considered and a solution was developed with ACAAR resulting in the release of the 5,000 juvenile fish.

“The release of these fantastic fish is the result of that work, showing that it is possible for different sectors to work together to achieve results that serve everyone’s interests – and most importantly the WA community as a whole,” Dr Rowland said.

“There is good work being done at ACAAR’s Fremantle hatchery under the leadership of Program Director Greg Jenkins  and this is where the juvenile pink snapper we release with the community each year as part of our Snapper Guardians initiative are reared.”

Creating fish abundance is one of Recfishwest’s primary focuses to ensure we can future-proof WA’s fish stocks against future environmental and human pressures. Fish stocking can be a potentially highly effective way of making fishing better forever – which is exactly what Recfishwest is all about.

However, Recfishwest believes more could, and should, be done in the fish stocking space.

Dr Rowland said the yellowtail kingfish release at South Mole was a significant step in establishing a coordinated and well-planned yellowtail kingfish stocking regime in WA.

“In the meantime, a big shout out for ACAAR and I hope you get the chance to do battle with a yellowtail hoodlum soon.”

Now that’s what we’re talking about! More of these could be coming your way soon, if a yellowtail kingfish stocking program is established for WA.