BY DUNCAN HILL
While flathead may not win any beauty contests they sure do win the popularity contest as far as fish loving Australians are concerned.
Fresh, boneless filets are sweet to taste and slightly firm in texture. This versatile fish can be crumbed, fried, steamed, battered or baked! A great choice for the whole family and particularly popular with kids.
Flathead have an elongated body with a large flattened head and large eyes. They are light brown on the head, back and upper sides, with a white belly and can be found at depths of 10‑400 metres!!
They’re generally not an active swimming species preferring to rest on the bottom of the sea bed during the day and then move up into the water column at night to feed on other small fish and crustaceans.
Wildcatch flathead are caught along the Victorian coastline from Mallacoota in the states far east to Portland in the west. Fishing methods vary but the most common and effective method is Danish seine netting which has minimal impacts on the environment.
Tight restrictions are in place to ensure responsible fishing including minimum mesh sizes to reduce the catch of small and juvenile fish, mitigation devices to reduce interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species and spatial closures to protect vulnerable species and habitats.
The Australian catch of flathead is managed by quota and this means the catch by commercial fishers is restricted by weight. Commercial fishers are required to fill in records of their catches, during each fishing trip and when they land their catch in a port. This helps fishery managers keep records of how much is being caught.
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) decide on the amount that can be caught each year from expert advice and recommendations from fisheries managers, industry members, scientist and researchers.
Flathead is currently assigned a ‘SUSTAINABLE’ stock status by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority which use the best data and information available to arrive at this status.
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