|Importance||commercial||Ref.||Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993|
|Aquaculture||never/rarely||Ref.||Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993|
|Regulations||restricted||Ref.||Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993|
|Abundance||common (usually seen)||Ref.||Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993|
Tommy ruff inhabit nearshore continental shelf waters of southern Australia from the Gippsland Lakes in eastern Victoria to Shark Bay (Ref. 27296), yet are absent from Tasmania.
Stock structure: Tommy ruff comprise a single structure.
Commercial fishery: Three quarters of the total annual catch of tommy ruff is taken in Western Australia, where a commercial fishery has operated since the 1940s in the south and lower west coasts from slightly east of Bremer Bay to near Fremantle. This fishery accounts for about 90% of the Western Australian tommy ruff catch (Ref. 27949).
In South Australia, the tommy ruff fishery is located inshore in both gulfs and the west coast bays (Ref. 27947). Throughout the year tommy ruff are mainly caught as an incidental catch of the more sought after (and more highly valued) southern garfish, King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata) and calamary (Sepioteuthis australis) but they are targeted when those species are less abundant in spring (August) to early summer (December). This coincides with the pre-migration period. The South Australian fishery catches older juveniles and immature adults, 1-3 years of age and 13-21 cm FL.
The fish targeted in Western Australia are either in pre-spawning or spawning condition (Ref. 27946), between 15 cm and 30 cm FL, and from 200 g to 400 g (Ref. 27947, 27128). The main fishery takes place in autumn and early winter and the largest catches are taken in April (Ref. 27949). However, adult non-spawning tommy ruff which entered estuaries and inshore waters either as juveniles or mature adults support an almost year-round fishery.
Tommy ruff are caught by various methods. Haul nets, gillnets, power hauling and trap nets (Ref. 27949) are used in sheltered waters and beache seines are used on ocean beaches. Teams of fishers operate the trap nets. Lampara (modified hauling) nets and gillnets are set at night. In South Australia, hand and power hauled nets are mainly used in gulf waters.
In Victoria, tommy ruff are mainly taken as bycatch of inshore fisheries concentrated in inlets and open coastal waters between Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes. Recorded catches have declined from a high of 57 t in 1965-66 to 10 t in 1984-85.
Tommy ruff are marketed as whole fish either fresh, smoked or frozen. Tommy ruff are consumed locally in Western Australia and South Australia or exported to Victoria. They are not a high value fish.
Recreational fishery: Tommy ruff are very popular recreational fish and substantial catches are taken near population centres such as Geraldton, Perth, Rottnest Island, Garden Island (near Perth) and Esperance in Western Australia, and Adelaide to Port Lincoln, Coffin Bay and Ceduna in South Australia.
Anglers catch tommy ruff from jetties, boats, rocky shores and beaches, using rod-and-line, handline, trolled spinners or lures, haul nets and set gillnets (Ref. 27946, 27949, 27950).
Most of the angling catch of tommy ruff from around Rottnest Island is taken during April and May, when the fish are in pre-spawning condition (Ref. 27951). In the Blackwood River estuary near Augusta in Western Australia, March and April are the most popular months for tommy ruff fishing (Ref. 27951), and in the year from May 1974, an estimated 68,000 tommy ruff were landed from the estuary. Recreational fishing is important in South Australia during summer (October to February) but there are no estimates of the total catch (Ref. 27652, 27950). The size range of caught fish is 15-37 cm TL (Ref. 27950).
Resource status: Catches have increased in South Australia and Western Australia from 1983 to 1993 mainly due to increased fishing effort. Up until 1993, the stock appeared to be in good condition or under-exploited throughout its range (Ref. 27946, 27947).
The high incidental catch in South Australia makes it difficult to estimate the amount of fishing effort on this species (Ref. 27947). Year to year fluctuations in the catch of tommy ruff in South Australian gulf waters is related to the strength of the eastward-flowing Leeuwin Current.
Also Ref. 4537.
|States/Provinces||New South Wales (native), South Australia (native), Tasmania (native), Victoria (native), Western Australia (native)|