Orange roughy gets protection
The Orange roughy has become the first commercially-fished fish species to be added to Australia's list of threatened species.
The species has been overfished in the deep waters off southern Australia and the authorities are attempting to prevent further declines by granting the fish legal protection.
Senator Ian Campbell told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus, would be listed as conservation dependent and the fishery was to be managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.
The species lives in cold waters around 180-1800m below the water surface and is found across a wide area of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is believed to be one of the longest living fish species, and some examinations of the otoliths (earbones) of Orange roughy have suggested maximum ages of between 125-156 years.
Its longevity means that the species is very slow growing and does not reach sexual maturity for many years. As a result, it has very low resilience to fishing, because the likelihood of being caught before the fish has reproduced is statistically much higher than in other species.
Despite global concerns regarding the exploitation of the species, it remains a popular food fish, particularly in the USA where over 8000 tonnes are landed every year.
The Orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus, is a member of Trachichthyidae family, which are commonly known as slimeheads. The Hoplostethus genus contains around 26 species.