Red Emperor are a popular food species and are the most commonly targeted offshore species. Most of the offshore activity for reef species around Cairns is conducted by recreational fishers.

  • Overview


    Crystal Bowl GBR is aiming to examine 3 core measures across a wide range of species in the region:

    • Fishing experience (how many fish per trip)
    • Quality of the fish (size of fish)
    • Community attitudes (number of legal size fish kept to released)


    Fishing Experience

    • Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys reports catch rate of 0.8 fish/fisher/day
    • Red Emporer were not commonly reported in 2017 (19th most common at boat ramp surveys)
    • Slight increase in Commercial Catch Rates from 15kg/day in 2016 to 20.6kg/day in 2017


    Quality of the Fish

    • 2017 Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys reported an average length of 597mm
    • Cairns ranked 7th in the state for average length however due to small sample size this has a high level of uncertainty


    Community Attitudes

    • 82% of Red Emperor caught in 2017 were released
    • 60% of the fish reported in 2017 were caught by locals
    • Cairns ranked 11th in the state for fish released in 2017


  • Assessment

    Moderate Take For Consumption Advised

    Red Emperor is not commonly reported being the 19th most reported species.Red Emperor is an important species producing around 5-6% of state catch. Periodic spikes in commercial catch suggests that there are years where conditions for recruitment are optimal but recruitment occurs in most years.

    Heavy harvesting of Red Emporer is not recommended, but a moderate take for consumption is unlikely to adversely affect stocks based on available data.




  • Forecast


    • Catch rates should be similar in 2018 (-20%-+20%)
    • Most fish will be in the range 500mm-600mm
    • Recruitment is unknown





  • Qld FIsheries Boat Ramp Surveys 

    Monitoring of Recreational Catch by Qld Fisheries

    Queensland Fisheries monitors boat ramps up and down the coast as a part of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. Fishers in Cairns regularly report catching Red Emperor with most being returned to the water. Monitoring began in 2017 and continues in 2018.

    • Red Emperor was not a commonly reported species, ranking 19th in Cairns in 2017
    • Average size of fish measured in 2017 was 597mm
    • Recreational Fishers reported a catch rate of 0.8 fish/fisher/day
    • 82% of fish reported in 2017 were released
    • 60% of fish reported in 2017 were caught by locals
    • Peak periods of Red Emperor catches in 2017 were during March and November


    Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys monitoring dashboard


  • Commercial Fishing

    Commercial Fishing Catch

    Queensland Fisheries monitors commercial catches up and down the coast. Commercial fishers are required to maintain logbooks of catch and report quarterly. The commercial catch of Red Emperor in Cairns (see Area Fished sections) represents 5.7% share of the total statewide catch. Monitoring is ongoing in 2018.

    • Commercial Catch rate in 2017 had increased slightly from 15kg/fisher/day in 2016 to 20.6kg/fisher/day in 2017
    • Number of active licenses has fluctuated between 18-30 over the past decade with 23 licenses active in 2017
    • Commercial catch in 2017 was 2T, compared to 1.7T in 2016.


    Cairns Red Emperor Commercial Catch Dashboard


  • Sportfishers

    Red Emperor

    Red Emperor are targeted by sportfishers for much the same reason as other groups - take home for a feed. As sportfishers practice catch and release for their key estuary targets, offshore represents the opportunity to bring back a feed of fish for the family.

      data pending


    A snapshot of Sportfisher (Suntaggers) results is available:

    Local Sportfishers / Suntaggers


  • Recruitment

    Monitoring of Red Emperor Recruitment

    No data is available currently on Red Emperor recruitment.


  • Monitoring

    Monitoring of Red Emperor

    Data for this assessment has been sourced from:

    • Bureau of Meterology
    • Queensland Fisheries
    • Local Sportfishers / Suntaggers


    Here are links to all the monitoring pages for Red Emperor:

    Local Sportfishers / Suntag 
    Cairns Queensland FisheriesBoat Ramp Surveys
    Cairns Queensland Fisheries Commercial Data

  • Fishing Area

    Area Assessed

    Offshore assessments of Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp data are based on ramp of origin, destination is recorded in broad general regions. Some offshore traffic likely extends offshore of Port Douglas.  Commercial catches have been assessed directly out of Cairns H16/17-P16/17.e).