Snapper is an iconic and prized species in South Australia’s recreational, commercial, charter boat and Aboriginal traditional fishing sectors and one of the State’s most sought after fish in our markets and restaurants.

The most recent scientific stock assessment report prepared by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in November 2018, identified concerns about the sustainability of the snapper stock in West Coast/Spencer Gulf, which has been assigned a stock status classification of ‘depleted’.

The Gulf St Vincent and South East stocks have been assigned a stock status classification of ‘sustainable’, however, there are indications of increased pressure on the Gulf St Vincent stock, which also need to be managed.

Following the release of this scientific information, workshops were held with commercial, charter and recreational sector representatives to implement initial measures to assist the protection and recovery of snapper stocks.

Updated information on snapper biomass estimates undertaken by SARDI in June 2019, indicate an 87% decrease in Snapper biomass in Gulf St Vincent over the past five years and a 23% decline in the Spencer Gulf stock.

Management action is required from all fishing sectors – commercial, recreational and charter – to return the Spencer Gulf/West Coast stock  to a sustainable status and maintain a sustainable status for the Gulf St Vincent and South East stocks.

Following consultation in early 2019 with all sectors, a consultation paper has been developed proposing management scenarios to support the recovery of South Australian snapper stocks and secure a sustainable future for all fishers, associated businesses and regional fishing communities.

Feedback from the targeted stakeholder consultation process has been considered in the development of the two management scenarios for the fishery:

Management scenario A: A statewide snapper closure would apply to all state waters from 1 October 2019 to 28 February 2023. This closure would cover four summer snapper spawning periods.

During the closure, the State Government will work with all fishing sectors to develop a snapper stock recovery strategy, informed by research which includes Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM) surveys to estimate biomass, pre-recruitment survey research and post-release survival and tagging research.

The stock recovery strategy will include development of a formal harvest strategy. While the fishery is closed, a co-management committee for marine scalefish fish stocks, which includes commercial, charter, recreational and Aboriginal traditional fishers, will be formed to guide future decision-making.

Stronger longer-term management arrangements will be developed together with fisheries management, science and industry experts from around Australia and New Zealand so that when the fishery reopens stronger stock controls exist.

Management scenario B: A total snapper closure would apply to the waters in the West Coast/Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent regions from 1 October 2019 to 28 February 2023.

An annual seasonal snapper closure, from each October to the end of each February, would apply to the waters in the South East region until 28 February 2023.

During the rest of the year, the area would be open to commercial, charter and recreational fishing subject to a total allowable catch. This would be determined by PIRSA and when the total allowable catch is caught this would result in a closure of the fishery. During the closure the government would work with all fishing sectors to undertake research and management projects set out in Management scenario A.

Find out more about the scenarios in the consultation paper.

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