AUSTRALIA’S central fishing industry is reeling from the loss of a rare species.
The red mullet is believed to be extinct in the eastern states, but scientists have discovered a few populations in western Australia, and hope to recover another in New South Wales.
“It’s not as good a chance as we’d like to get to, but we’re going to get close,” said Professor Mark Taylor, a fisheries ecologist at the University of New South, Sydney.
“We are doing what we can to keep the red mullets going in a bit of a recovery effort.”
Mr Taylor and other scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Fish and Wildlife Research Centre in Victoria have been studying the red moor trout for nearly a year.
They have collected nearly 1,000 specimens of the fish in the Western Australian waters, and found only a handful have survived.
“They are in the most marginal areas,” Professor Taylor said.
“And in those areas they’re being very vulnerable to overfishing.”
There is nothing to indicate that they are actually thriving in those places.
“The red moults are one of a number of species of fish that have vanished in Australia, along with bluefin tuna and the blackfin tuna.
In recent years, Australia’s red mullets have become more scarce, and there have been reports of the species dying out in the Southern Ocean.
Scientists believe the species is on the verge of extinction.”
Our work in Western Australia has shown that there are a small number of red mullits left,” Professor Walker said.