Argyrosomus japonicus

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Mulloway
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Sciaenidae
Genus: Argyrosomus
Species: A. japonicus
Binomial name
Argyrosomus japonicus
Temminck & Schlegel, 1844

Argyrosomus japonicus is a silvery to bronze-green colored fish, a member of the Sciaenidae family, which may grow up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in length. It is known as mulloway or jewfish in Australia and dusky kob in South Africa. The name jewfish refers to the large earstones, which are prized as "jewels" by some fishers.

Description[edit]

Argyrosomus japonicus is a large, slender fish which can grow to 2 m (6 ft 7 in). It has a copper-colored head and is silvery with a bronze-green dorsal surface and paler belly. It has with a row of distinctive white spots running along the lateral line. The caudal fin is angular in juveniles but becomes more rounded in larger fish.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Argyrosomus japonicus has an Indo-Pacific distribution occurring in coastal waters surrounding Australia, Africa, India, Pakistan, China, Korea and Japan. Adults are gregarious and are found over soft bottoms mainly beyond the surf zone, occasionally going inshore. Juveniles are exclusively found in shallow water and sometimes move in to estuaries.[2]

Fish stocks in South Africa[edit]

In South Africa, the fish is sought after by both commercial and recreational fishermen alike. Over the past 5 years, the fish stock has been declining rapidly. In a recent study, local beach seine operations were cited as being responsible for decimating the fish stocks. Little regard is taken by these Seine Netters to conserve these fish. There have been continual reports that these Seine netters at Muizenberg Beach in False Bay have kept every fish caught on occasions when no fisheries' official is on site. There has been photographic proof posted on the web showing pickups full of undersized fish leaving the beach. These fish are supposed to be released, but the Seine netters seek opportunity to keep every fish possible when no law official is present. The authorities have been slow to act on this matter.

In 2011, officials arrested one of the two seine netters that operate at Muizenberg Beach for having a freezer full (over 1500 juvenile) of undersized Argyrosomus japonicus. The case was dropped until there was a public outcry and the department of public prosecution in Cape Town had decided to reopen the case. A decision should be made before the end of 2013 as to whether to charge the Muizenburg Beach Seine Netter or take no action and set a precedent for other operators to keep undersized fish.

References[edit]