There are 60+ species of Leatherjacket and Reef Leatherjacket. They are usually marketed without differentiation, with the exception of the species 'Ocean Jacket', which is the most valuable of the commercial species available.
Leatherjackets are found throughout Australian waters and are available year round, though the supply of Velvet Leatherjacket is limited and supply of Ocean Jacket peaks from October to April. They are caught as bycatch of trap and trawl fisheries in inshore waters as far as the continental shelf. There is also a small trap fishery near Albany in WA. In the south, especially SA, there are specialised fisheries using seines, traps, and line. Some species of Leatherjacket are imported from SE Asia, usually as frozen fillets. These may come from fisheries with questionable environmental records and should be avoided. Country of Origin labelling is required by law in Australia.
|Government Stock Assessment|
|Ocean Jacket||Commonwealth||Not formally assessed, though
|South Australia||Not Assessed||–||–|
|What do these terms mean?|
The why and how of sustainability
Ocean jackets are a short lived and productive species off SE Australia, and their stocks are healthy. They have a very low market demand, and unfortunately there is major discard of this species at sea even though they are very edible and quite delicious! We need to create a better market for this fish, so please embrace it. The only point of disagreement is over trawl caught ocean jackets in the commonwealth SE trawl fishery, which are caught along with other species in the inner shelf with subsequent bycatch related issues. The NSW fishery is primarily in traps with much lower impact and bycatch than trawls. Considering these issues, we believe we need to embrace the Ocean Jacket, so here it is, the GFBF tick of approval!
Preparation and cooking
Leatherjackets are named for their thick skin, which has a sandpaper-like texture and peels easily from the flesh when preparing.
They are usually sold as skinless fillets or as ‘Trunks’ – without skin, head or guts.
They have firm, white, lustrous flesh that becomes quite dense on cooking but remains moist. The meat holds its shape when diced and used in curries or soups, and fillets can be steamed, poached or pan fried.
If cooking whole, wrap in foil with aromatics to prevent the flesh from drying out, before Grilling, BBQ’ing or Baking.