An 84 year old fish – amazing!

In the wake of researchers discovering WA’s most long-lived fish Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney has urged local recreational fishers to take on their South Coast brethren and help Department of Fisheries researchers determine the age of fish species in the Indian Ocean’s West Coast.

The discovery by WA researchers of a Bight redfish that lived to 84 years of agehas set a new State record for long-lived fish.

 Bight Redfish

Bight Redfish

The ‘elderly’ Bight Redfish was swimming in the ocean early last century and still alive and cruising WA’s South Coast late last year.

This redfish was born in 1929 when the Popeye comic was making its debut and the Academy Awards first started. It was swimming around when Philip Collier was WA’s Premier and James Scullin took over from Stanley Bruce as Australia’s Prime Minister, when WA celebrated its centenary and during the Great Depression.

The 60cm Bight redfish (Centroberyxgerrardi) was about average size when it was caught in November 2013.

Now you might wonder how do you tell the age of a fish?

Mr Blayney said “it’s not possible to tell the age of a fish from looking at it. So its age wasn’t discovered until its skeleton went under the microscope at the Department of Fisheries’ Hillarys research centre”.

Researchers from the Department of Fisheries, working in collaboration with Murdoch University’s Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, assessed the age of this female fish from examining the growth rings of its ear bones (or otoliths), much like the way that tree ages can be identified from a cross-section of trunk.

The research was being supported by recreational fishers and commercial fish processors on the South Coast, who have been donating fish frames of the required species with skeleton and head left intact after filleting.

 Otolith of 84yr-old Bight redfish

Otolith of 84yr-old Bight redfish

Bight redfish is one of the key species being checked. Geraldton and Mid West fishers to the 27-degree parallel just north of Kalbarri can contribute to the project which is also looking at pink snapper, blue morwong and donated frames of three near shore finfish species; Australian herring, King George whiting and tailor.

Recreational fishers can play a key part in the research by donating their fish skeletons to help long-term monitoring of fish stocks. 

Also known as 'frames', filleted skeletons, with the heads and guts intact, are essential to assess the status of fish resources. By analysing data from the frames reseachers can make science-based decisions to sustainably manage our fisheries. 

By donating frames before July 1, recreational fishers can win a number of prizes thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

Prizes for this year include:

  • A charter trip for two to the Montebello Islands with Monte Bello Island Safaris and return flights from Perth to Exmouth are provided by the WA Department of Fisheries.
  • State-of-the-art custom-made fishing rods andUgly Stik fishing rods.
  • A day's charter fishing trip for two from Hillarys.
  • Quarterly $50 vouchers and other assorted prizes..


To donate frames, label them with your name and address (so they can send you research feedback and enter you into our prize draw - see below), the date and location of your capture (shore catch: general location; boat catch: latitude/longitude or distance and bearing from port and the name of the port). Information you provide about the location of your catch is confidential and only used for research purposes, so you can continue to keep your favourite fishing spots secret.

Fishers can drop off their fish frames at our offices or participating stores listed below. The frames can be frozen, so you can collect a few before dropping them off.

Department of Fisheries 
69-75 Connell Road, Geraldton 6530
T: 9921 6800 or 0407 388 930

Geraldton Fish Market 
365 Marine Terrace, Geraldton 6530
Weekdays and up to 12 noon Saturday
T: 9921 3755

Geraldton Sports Centre
204-208 Marine Terrace, Geraldton 6530
T: 9921 3664 or 0407 388 930