There are many species of Garfish, the most commonly marketed being Southern Garfish, Snubnose Garfish, Eastern Sea Garfish, Shortnose Garfish and the Three-by-Two Garfish.
Australia's largest commercial garfish fishery is the Southern Sea Garfish fishery based off SA. Various Garfish species are caught using inshore netting methods in all the states. They are available year round, with the supply of Southern Garfish peaking from March to May.
|Government Stock Assessment|
|Eastern Sea Garfish||NSW||Fully Fished||–||–|
|Southern Garfish||Victoria||Sustainable||Say No||–|
|Tasmania||Transitional – Depleting|
|WA (South Coast)||Undefined|
|WA (West Coast)||Overfished|
|SA (South East & West Coast)||Undefined|
|SA (Northern Spencer Gulf)||Transitional – Recovering|
|SA (Northern Gulf St. Vincent)||Overfished|
|SA (Southern Gulf St. Vincent
& Southern Spencer Gulf)
|What do these terms mean?|
The why and how of sustainability
There’s not so much disagreement but regional scale differences in how stocks are faring around Australia. Garfish are caught in bays, estuaries and coastal waters and have limited home ranges, meaning there are possibly lots of separate stocks that are hard to assess collectively. South Australia has the largest fishery but is currently at its lowest historical catch, while Victoria and NSW have moderate sized fisheries. Because they are an inshore coastal species, stock declines are likely related to changes to coastal environments along with fishing pressure. In particular the loss of seagrass beds (which they eat and also use as breeding and nursery grounds) is likely to have reduced stocks in many coastal bays and estuaries. Garfish are a very difficult species to assess and should probably be eaten in moderation.
Preparation and cooking
Garfish are a small sweet fish with excellent, delicate flesh, though many people avoid them bacause they can be bony. Ask your fishmonger to butterfly them for you if you are worried about this.
However, Garfish cooked whole flakes easily from the central bone structure. BBQ, Grill or Panfry.
If Deepfrying, coat in a batter or crumb to protect the delicate flesh. Very fresh Garfish fillets make excellent sashimi, serve raw with a citrus and soy dressing.
WHITING, especially some of the smaller, less utilised species such as SAND WHITING and SCHOOL WHITING are a similar size to Garfish and can be utilised in much the same way. Their delicate white flesh remains moist and flakes beautifully when Grilling, BBQ’ing or Panfrying.