Good news for King George whiting

High numbers of juvenile King George whiting have been recorded in recent surveys of Port Phillip Bay. This new strong year-class of whiting will grow quickly and be catchable size from spring 2018.

The annual surveys have been undertaken around the bay since 1998 and are a reliable predictor of future catches.

The bumper whiting catches enjoyed by anglers in recent times are the result of exceptional juvenile whiting numbers detected in the 2013 survey.

Anglers have welcomed the latest results given low juvenile whiting counts in 2014 and 2015. People fishing outside the bays along the coast can expect increased catches of larger whiting over the next few years as these mature fish move out to spawn during winter, most likely off far western Victoria and eastern SA.

The tiny whiting larvae drift eastward for approximately 3 months before entering Port Phillip Bay and other sheltered bays in spring, when our scientists conduct surveys in seagrass beds.

Westerly winds help drive currents that bring whiting larvae into the bay, where they take about 2 years to reach the minimum size of 27cm. At about 4 years of age, most whiting have left the bays to complete their life in coastal waters.

Because whiting only reside in the bays for a few years of their life, these fisheries naturally fluctuate depending on the number of tiny larvae that entered the bays several years prior.

High numbers recorded in the most recent survey were consistent with a 2016 winter-spring climate characterised by frequent and strong westerly winds.

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