Harlequin Fish

Harlequin Fish

The Harlequin Fish (Othos dentex) is a southern Australian endemic with a limited geographic distribution (S.A. and W.A.), and a limited known depth range.

It is a site-associated on coastal reefs, over a narrow depth range, and has vulnerable population characteristics, similar to other species in the Serranidae family. Although there is a paucity of quantitative information about population sizes, it is likely that the relative abundance of this species in South Australia is much lower than in Western Australia.

There is concern that abundance may have declined over time in areas where water quality is reduced, and reefs are degraded. Harlequin Fish are caught by recreational fishermen, guests of charter fishing trips and (to a lesser extent) by commercial operators across its range by a number of methods. 

Few controls are placed on its capture, particularly in South Australia, and no investigation of the potential impacts of fishing has been undertaken.

4 Comments

  1. Ron Bellchambers (Jamestown SA)
    July 11, 2014

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    I have been lucky in the past to have seen the Harlequin Fish around the bottom reefs of Yorke Peninsula, unfortunately this was a long time ago. This fish was once prized by Spearfishermen but was cut from all competition’s due to trying to protect this species of beautiful fish.

  2. Dave Muirhead
    January 15, 2016

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    Harlequin Fish should undoubtedly receive full protection in all SA waters,as an urgent,obvious agenda and full protection would or should be so simple to achieve in legislative terms, yet that inertia we so often observe among our ‘top order legislators’ seems as resistive today as it’s seemed for decades. Ditto for our iconic site-associated Western Blue Groper,which must by any scientific assessment or criteria stand out as a key candidate for blanket protection.
    Why are these two species not yet fully protected in SA?When I boil it down to the essence, I can think of only 2 realistic reasons:either there is vested interest by certain groups in our community against full protection,or there is insufficient public awareness of these fishes’ plight to spur our political representatives into action ie ‘not enough votes in it’.

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