Rexea solandri Click to enlarge image
A 65 cm long Gemfish caught by I. Cameron at a depth of 270m, off Brunswick Heads, New South Wales, May 2005. Image: I. Cameron
© I. Cameron

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    solandri
    Genus
    Rexea
    Family
    Gempylidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to about 1.2 m in length and a weight of 15 kg.

Introduction

The Gemfish is an excellent food fish that was the target of an important but increasingly over-exploited fishery in south-eastern Australia during the late 1970s and 1980s. Since 1993, only bycatch has been allowed.

Identification

The Gemfish has a moderately elongate compressed body. It has two dorsal fins followed by two separate finlets. The pelvic fin comprises a tiny spine and two of three rays.

The mouth is relatively large reaching to under the front of the eyes. There are large fang-like teeth at the front of the jaws, which are followed by a row of smaller compressed teeth.

The lateral line is forked, with one branch running along the upper sides of the body and the second branch diverging downward below the fifth dorsal fin spine, then running along the side of the body.

The species is iridescent bluish above and silver below. There is a dark mark distally on the fin membrane between the first three dorsal fin spines.

Habitat

The species has been caught at depths between 100 m and 800 m.

Distribution

This species occurs in temperate marine waters of Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is known from off southern Queensland, around the south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Economic impacts

The Gemfish is an excellent food fish that was the target of an important but increasingly over-exploited fishery in south-eastern Australia during the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1993 the targeted fishery was closed based on the results of scientific research, which showed declining catch rates and a significant decline in the average size of fish in the mature population. Since then only bycatch has been allowed.

References

  1. Gomon, M.F. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Colgan, D.J. & J.R. Paxton. 1997. Biochemical genetics and recognition of a western stock of the common gemfish, Rexea solandri (Scombroidea: Gempylidae), in Australia. 48(2): Marine and Freshwater Research. 48(2): 103-118, 5 figs.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Parin, N.V. & J.R. Paxton. 1990. Know your catch, Australia's east coast gemfish. Australian Fisheries, 49(5): suppl. 5pp.
  5. Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & J.R. Paxton. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes. Canberra: Environment Australia. Pp. 375.
  6. Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & R.D. Ward. 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook, an identification guide to domestic species. CSIRO Marine Research. Pp. 461.