Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
Schools of varying densities can be seen from the open water zone at the Underwater Observatory during the summer and autumn months. Generally, herring occupy the space only 1 to 2 metres below the sea surface, positioning themselves to face the direction of the oncoming current to feed on the passing plankton.
Australian herring are both a commercially and recreationally important nearshore finfish, which are widley distributed along Australia’s southern half from Lakes Entrance, Victoria to Shark Bay, Western Australia. They are a silvery olive-green colour with vertical grey stripes down the length of the body and black tips at the points of their tail. Australian Herring occur in large schools in the open water of sheltered bays to a depth of 30 metres, where they feed predominantly on plankton. They are a migratory species, with a westward migration from southern Australia to the lower coast of Western Australia observed prior to spawning in February and March each year. After spawning an eastward migration occurs. Australian herring mature at age two to three years total length 19-21centimetres and grow to a maximum size of 41 centimetres. They have a life span of around twelve years.
Annual commercial catches have significantly declined over the last 20 years from 1500 tonnes to ranges of 147-272 tonnes in 2007-2011.
Australian herring are often confused for juvenile Australian salmon by recreational fisherman, however herring can be easily distinguished from salmon by the presence of black tips on the tail and notably larger eyes.
Other common names include: Tommy Rough, Tommy Ruff and Sea Herring
Image: Busselton Jetty