Replenishing Snapper Stocks

Management measures and a range of other supporting measures are in place to achieve the long-term improvement of South Australia’s Snapper fishery. One of these supporting measures includes more than $1 million from the Regional Growth Fund through State Government funding to ensure a full suite of Snapper science is conducted for the 2019–20 spawning season.

Fundamental to the effective management of the Snapper fishery is understanding the size of the Snapper stock, or its biomass. Scientists from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) are working to estimate the Snapper spawning biomass to assist in the sustainable management of the fishery. Find out more about the ongoing research.

Additional measures have been established to support the need for urgent action to protect the future of Snapper stocks in South Australia. These include the following projects:

Additional projects

Snapper Management Advisory Committee

The Snapper Management Advisory Committee (MAC) was established in 2019 to provide advice on Snapper science and management programs as part of the Snapper management review. The committee has provided advice to the Minister on the Snapper management arrangements in relation to the State's South East region, implemented in January 2020.

Status: On track; the next Snapper MAC meeting is planned to be held in mid-2020 once the Snapper stock assessment is completed.

Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform

The report of the Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform Advisory Committee (CMSFRAC) was submitted to the Minister on 31 October 2019 providing recommendations of a reform package. The $24.5 million Marine Scalefish Fishery reform package will be fully implemented by 1 July 2021 and includes:

  • introducing four regional fisheries management zones: West Coast, Spencer Gulf, Gulf St Vincent/Kangaroo Island and South East
  • introducing a total allowable commercial catch for priority species
  • allocating quotas to fishers, which will be transferable, to manage commercial catch limits
  • capping fee increases for the fishery to CPI for four years
  • a voluntary buy back of up to 150 commercial longline, line and net fishing licenses, commencing Monday 25 May 2020
  • reducing fishing red tape by at least a third.

Status: Completed; this initial project related to the work of the CMSFRAC. The implementation of the reform is now underway and will be reported separately.

Charter Sector diversification program

A two-year program of $500,000 from the Regional Growth Fund has been established to support the diversification of the charter boat sector. The State Government will work with the Surveyed and Charter Boat Owners and Operators Association to develop this program informed by the Charter Sector Growth Strategy.

Status: On track; initial applications have been assessed and an announcement is expected mid-2020.

Charter Red Tape Reduction

A number of requests from the Charter Boat Fishery have been progressed, in an effort to support the charter boat sector to diversify. These include:

  • King George Whiting May 2020 spatial spawning closure lifted
  • northern Spencer Gulf Cuttlefish closure lifted
  • Southern Bluefin Tuna charter boat limit is currently under review
  • providing charter operators with the ability to use Rock Lobster pots to increase experiences of customers in catching this species
  • allowing Snapper tag and release for recreational fishers on charter boats
  • allowing charter boats to transit through Snapper closures to launch and retrieve from their home ports
  • allowing charter boat operators or customers to catch live bait to increase experiences for recreational fishers is currently under review.

Status: On track; PIRSA is considering the best available science in progressing each of these activities.

FRDC National Snapper workshop

In November 2019, the State Government partnered with the Commonwealth Government Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) to convene a national Snapper workshop in Adelaide. The workshop brought together fisheries managers, scientists, and recreational and commercial industry experts from around Australia and New Zealand to discuss the most effective ways to conduct scientific stock assessment and management of Snapper stocks.

Status: On track; a draft report to the FRDC is currently being completed.

Murray cod restocking program

As recommended by the Minister’s Recreational Fishing Advisory Council (MRFAC), the State Government is undertaking a Murray Cod restocking program to provide additional recreational fishing opportunities in South Australia. $200,000 committed over two years from the Regional Growth Fund will fund Murray Cod restocking in the River Murray.

On 7 February 2020, 70,000 Murray cod fingerlings were released at Kingston on Murray and an additional 20,000 Murray cod fingerlings were released at the Pike River near Paringa.

Status: On track; the next stocking event is scheduled for January 2021.

Snapper restocking program

As recommended by the MRFAC, the State Government is undertaking a Snapper restocking program. $500,000 has been committed over two years from the Regional Growth Fund to fund Snapper fish restocking in the Spencer Gulf to help replenish depleted fish stocks.

Approximately 70 healthy Snapper are currently maintained at SARDI’s Aquatics Sciences Centre.

Status: On track; the Snapper at SARDI are being conditioned in preparation for spawning throughout 2020–21.

Snapper stock assessment and DEPM

SARDI has collected biological data, as part of a comprehensive scientific sampling program for Snapper in 2019–20. Find out more about the research.

Status: On track; the stock assessment report is due mid-2020.

Commercial MSF Fee Relief

Marine Scalefish Fishery licence holders impacted by the new Snapper management will have their licence fees cut by 50 per cent for the duration of the Snapper ban, at a total cost of more than $3 million. Notice to Fishers has been provided to Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF) licence holders informing of a fee reduction for 2019–20.

In response to COVID-19, the government has recently announced that all commercial fishing and aquaculture fees will be deferred for the first six months of 2020–21; and the collection of any unpaid 2019–20 fees will also be deferred. Charter boat fees for the first six months of 2020–21 will be waived, in recognition that this sector has been shut down by the direction for people to stay at home, not undertake unnecessary travel and by social distancing requirements.

Status: On track; initial project work by the CMSFRAC is complete. The implementation of the reform is now underway and will be reported separately.

Lesser Known Fish awareness campaign

The State Government will invest in promoting many of South Australia’s lesser known seafood species to consumers, recreational fishers, charter boat operators and tackle shops. In consultation with industry, the Lesser Known Species Reference Group met in October 2019 and March 2020.

Status: On track; the campaign is due to be launched in June 2020.

South Australian Recreational Fishing Guide app

Working with the Minister’s Recreational Fishing Advisory Council (MRFAC), the SA Recreational Fishing Guide app is currently being updated to ensure a more user-friendly experience. It will also include consumer education and the development of a new state-wide map feature for locating lesser known fish species. User group feedback from the MRFAC, Fishcare volunteers and Fisheries Officers is contributing to this update.

Status: On track; the app is due to be launched in June 2020.

Increase fines for expiations

With few exceptions, the current expiation fees under the Fisheries Management Act 2007 have not increased for over 15 years. A review has been conducted on expiation fees and consultation has been undertaken with the MRFAC and Charter Boat operators.

Status: On track.

FRDC Lesser known species project

The lesser known species workshop was undertaken at SARDI on 20 February 2020 as part of a FRDC funded project. It was attended by SARDI, PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the commercial, charter, recreational and marketing sectors. Attendees discussed and reviewed research on a suite of candidate lesser known species by SARDI, which has contributed to a species matrix being developed outlining biological sustainability, along with marketing and regulatory limitations and opportunities.

Status: On track; the final FRDC report is currently under review.

FRDC Juvenile Snapper monitoring program

Commencing in 2019–2020 the State Government has partnered with the FRDC to conduct a research project to develop a cost-effective method of monitoring the number of juvenile Snapper that enter the South Australian population each year.

Status: Delayed; field work has been delayed by 12 months due to COVID-19 restrictions.

FRDC Post-release survival and movement research project

The State Government has partnered with the FRDC to work with the charter and commercial fishing sectors to enable a small number of fishing trips to undertake scientific catch, tag and release Snapper programs during the closure, to understand the impact of barotrauma on the survival of line-caught Snapper.

Status: Delayed; field work has been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Recreational fishing survey

The State Government is partnering with the FRDC to undertake a new national recreational fishing survey. Read the key findings from the 2013–14 South Australian recreational fishing survey (PDF 864.8 KB). SARDI has engaged with leading recreational fishing scientists and assisted by the MRFAC, the modern survey methodology will be designed to improve our understanding of recreational fishing to support fisheries management using South Australia as a case study.

Status: On track; the survey is due to commence in late 2020.

Page Last Reviewed: 25 May 2020
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