Friday, July 1, 2022

Project Kingfish

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Project Kingfish research team, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Lord Howe Island Marine Park News, The Lord Howe Island Signal

Loved for both their great taste and awesome sport fishing, the yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) is one of Australia’s most economically important fish species. Despite their importance, little is known about the species’ large-scale movements, fine-scale population structure or behaviours.

Kingfish
Mature-size kingfish equipped with satellite.
Photo: Project Kingfish

Historical catch and release data collected by the NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging Program has shown that east Australian kingfish travel between southeast Queensland and South Australia, and as far as New Zealand. With no clear reason for these movements, Project Kingfish was initiated at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and funded by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust to address this knowledge gap.

The project aims to deploy satellite transmitters on mature-sized kingfish (>83 cm fork length) across the NSW east coast and key offshore habitats such as the Lord Howe Island Marine Park (LHIMP) to gain further insights into the population structure, regional movements, and habitat use for the east Australian stock. The data is expected to decipher any trends and seasonality in these movements, and to help understand whether these are linked to spawning, feeding or environmental preference.

The LHIMP and its kingfish population are key to the project. The abundance of large kingfish in these waters suggests it is an important location for the east Australian stock. Yet, it is still unclear whether these kingfish are year-round residents or transitory through this and other regions. Project Kingfish hopes to deploy a small number of satellite tags, as well as streamer tags, on mature-sized kingfish off Lord Howe Island to monitor where these kingfish go and record some of their behaviours.

Kingfish
Mature-size kingfish equipped with streamer tags.
Photo: Project Kingfish.

To celebrate the start of this research project, Project Kingfish sponsored the Biggest Kingfish Prize as part of the 2022 Lord Howe Island Annual Fishing Tournament, organised by the Lord Howe Island Game Fishing Club, which took place in April 2022. Several large, breeding-sized kingfish were successfully caught by participants, equipped with a streamer tag from the NSW Game Fish Tagging Program and released, to hopefully be recaptured one day and contribute data on kingfish movements in the future. These kingfish will help generate much needed scientific information to fill current knowledge gaps about the species. Congratulations to Erin Mayo (1st Place), Ken Simpson (2nd Place) and Vivienne Crombie (3rd Place) on their success in the Biggest Kingfish Prize.

Over the next two years, the Project Kingfish team will visit Lord Howe Island to work with local anglers to satellite tag kingfish and collect data about this species.

This article has been contributed by the Project Kingfish research team, who can be contacted for further information via email at: Project.Kingfish@sims.org.au

The Lord Howe Island Signal 31 May 2022

This article appeared in The Lord Howe Island Signal, 31 May 2022.

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