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About the Commercial Fishery for
Coral Trout (Plectrodomus maculatus) (Plectropomus leopardus)

Coral reef fish are caught by hook & line along the Great Barrier Reef from the Torres Strait south to Fraser Island, from the inshore reefs to the outer reefs.

Commercial Fishing for Coral Trout:

Where are Coral Trout found in Australia. Map showing whereReef fish are harvested throughout the Queensland coast - from the NSW border to the Torres Straits although most of the catch is harvested in the waters between Bundaberg and Cooktown.

Coral reef fish are caught by hook and line along the length of the Great Barrier Reef from the Torres Strait south to Fraser Island, and from the inshore reefs to the outer barrier reefs. The main targets for the line fishery are coral trout, red throat emperor, Spanish mackerel and red emperor.

More than 125 fish species are caught in the reef line fishery, but only a few of them are targeted. These include coral trout species Plectropomus spp., red throat emperor Lethrinus miniatus, Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus commerson, red emperor Lutjanus sebae and several cod species.

Many other species are not targeted but are caught incidentally and kept by fishers. These include tropical snappers such as stripey sea perch Lutjanus carponotatus, hussar Lutjanus adetti, Moses sea perch Lutjanus russelli, rosy jobfish Pristipomoides filamentosus, goldband snapper Pristipomoides multidens, large-mouthed nannygai Lutjanus malabaricus and small-mouthed nannygai Lutjanus erythropterus. These fish are called by-product

Scientific Name Plectrodomus maculatus
Location Tropical waters of northern Australia
Season All year round
Size To about 110cm
Australian Species Code 37 311905
Taste, Texture Firm white flesh.  Excellent eating.

Coral trout makes up 40-45% of the total commercial harvest of the commercial line fishing on the Great Barrier Reef, with significant amounts of red throat emperor and Spanish mackerel also caught (1520% of the total harvest each).

The Queensland reef line fishery operates under the leading edge Reef Fin Fish Management Plan, and is widely recognised as the best managed reef fish fishery anywhere in the world.

Until 1993, all commercial catch of Coral Trout in Australia was killed and marketed locally and internationally either as frozen fillets, frozen gilled and gutted fish, or chilled whole fish. By 2000, however, nearly half of the entire coral trout catch was exported as live food fish to overseas markets in Hong Kong and south-east Asia. Restaurant prices in Hong Kong for premium live fish such as coral trout can reach $A130 per kg at peak times such as the Chinese New Year. This price is reflected in the price paid to commercial line fishers in Australia so that the fishers can be paid up to three times the price for a live fish compared with the same fish sold dead.


Video Showing The Queensland Coral Trout Fishery:


How Commercial Line Fishers Work:
Most commercial line fishing operators work from a large fishing vessel (about 10-20 m long), known as the main or primary boat, from which one to seven fishers operate. The fishers usually fish from smaller tenders, called dories, giving them much greater maneuverability near the reef. The main boat provides transport to the reef, accommodation for the fishing crew, and storage for gear and the catch.

Fish not destined for the live market are killed and placed on ice in the dories. Throughout the day, the dories off-load their catch to the main boat where it is filleted or kept whole. The product is then snap frozen or chilled in a brine/ice slurry.

Fish destined for live export must remain in premium condition. When these fish are caught, the hook is removed carefully, and the fish are put in flow-through seawater tanks in the dory and later transferred to larger holding tanks on the main boat until they are off-loaded in port, several days later.

Some fishing boats that work in remote areas may not return to port for months and rely on supply ships to replenish supplies and transport their frozen catch to buyers in port. Under current Queensland legislation, live fish must be transported back to port by the fisher. All fish must be sold to a licensed fish buyer.

Coral trout exported live from Australia are freighted by air in oxygenated or aerated bins. Air freight ensures that the supply of fish to Asia is regular and reliable, and that the fish arrive
in premium condition.


Exporters of Coral Trout  |  Importers of Coral Trout  |  Processors of Coral Trout  |  Wholesale Suppliers of Coral Trout  |  Agents for Coral Trout


See Also:
Coral Trout Photos & Information

Angling & Fishing for Coral Trout

Cooking Coral Trout and Coral Trout Recipes

Coral Trout (Plectrodomus maculatus) Commercial Fisheries

Coral Trout Links & Resources


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