University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Shelf spawning habitat of Emmelichthys nitidus in south-eastern Australia - Implications and suitability for egg-based biomass estimation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 00:38 authored by Neira, FJ, Jeremy LyleJeremy Lyle, John KeaneJohn Keane
The spawning habitat of Emmelichthys nitidus (Emmelichthyidae) in south-eastern Australia is described from vertical ichthyoplankton samples collected along the shelf region off eastern through to southwestern Tasmania during peak spawning in October 2005-06. Surveys covered eastern waters in 2005(38.8-43.5S), and both eastern and southern waters in 2006 (40.5S around to 43.5S off the southwest).Eggs (n10,393) and larvae (n378) occurred along eastern Tasmania in both years but were rare along southern waters south and westwards of 43.5S in 2006. Peak egg abundances (1950-2640 perm2) were obtained off north-eastern Tasmania (40.5-41.5S) between the shelf break and 2.5 nm inshore from the break. Eggs were up to 5-days old, while nearly 95% of larvae were at the early preflexion stage, i.e. close to newly emerged. Average abundances of aged eggs pooled across each survey declined steadily from day-1 to day-5 eggs both in 2005 (97-18) and 2006 (175-34). Moreover, day-1 egg abundances were significantly greater 2.5 nm at either side of the break, including at the break, than in waters 5 nm both inshore and offshore from the break. These results, complemented with egg and larval data obtained in shelf waters off New South Wales (NSW; 35.0-37.7S) in October 2002-03, indicate that the main spawning area of E. nitidus in south-eastern Australia lies between 35.5S off southern NSW and 43.5S off south-eastern Tasmania, and that spawning activity declines abruptly south and westwards of 43.5S around to the south-west coast. In addition, quotient analyses of day-1 egg abundances point to a preferred spawning habitat contained predominantly within a 5 nm corridor along the shelf break, where waters are 125-325 m deep and median temperatures 13.5-14.0 C. Spawning off eastern Tasmania is timed with the productivity outburst typical of the region during the austral spring, and the temperature increase from the mixing between the southwards advancing, warm East Australian Current and cooler subantarctic water over the shelf. Overall, ichthyoplankton data, coupled with reproductive information from adults trawled off Tasmania, indicate that E. nitidus constitutes a suitable species for the application of the daily egg production method (DEPM) to estimate spawning biomass. This finding, together with evidence in support of a discrete eastern spawning stock extending from southern NSW to southern Tasmania, strengthens the need for DEPM-based biomass estimates of E. nitidus prior to further fishery expansion. Crown Copyright 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Publication title

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication


Rights statement

The definitive version is available at

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified