A ONCE-PRIZED table fish is being considered for the threatened species list, in a further challenge to fisheries managers.
The blue warehou, or trevally, of south-eastern waters is said to face a threat of extinction despite Australian Fisheries Management Authority attempts to limit its catch.
Its plight comes to light as the federal fishing regulators face what the Fisheries Minister, Joe Ludwig, says will be a ''root and branch'' shake-up in the wake of the super trawler dispute.
Environment groups pointed to the steady decline of blue warehou as evidence of long-term management failings.
''It's a big concern that a commercially managed species is allowed to get to the point where it's nominated for 'conservation dependent' status - it just shouldn't happen,'' said Greenpeace's oceans campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society's marine campaigner, Tooni Mahto, said the AFMA had known for a long period that blue warehou was overfished. ''It does draw into question the claim that Australia's fisheries management is the best in the world,'' Ms Mahto said.
Blue warehou catches peaked 20 years ago at about 3000 tonnes, the Environment Department's Threatened Species Scientific Committee has been told. By the mid-1990s, stocks dwindled below the critical biological minimum 20 per cent of original size.
Since then AFMA said it had reduced the total allowable catch. A 2008 assessment found it remained at risk, and commercial fishers are forbidden from targeting blue warehou. But 118 tonnes annually is still being taken as bycatch.
''Because blue warehou is part of a multi-species fishery it is not possible to have a zero catch,'' an AFMA spokeswoman told the Herald.
The threatened species nomination, which is open for comment, said there were reports that blue warehou was still being targeted, and lower value small fish were being discarded.
''This may be masking the true impact of fishing, and mortality would be higher than reported,'' the nomination said.
The AFMA defended its controls, saying it had a good estimate of the discarding of many species, including blue warehou, and commercial fishers had developed a voluntary code of conduct to protect the fish.