Drastic action needed as SA snapper numbers plummet

The excitement of hooking and reeling in a snapper in South Australian waters may be a thing of the past with reports that fish numbers have dropped to unsustainable levels.

According to the latest data from SARDI, immediate action needs to be taken by recreational and professional fishers before next summer to increase numbers to a viable level, especially in the Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent.

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) is currently reviewing the management of the state's snapper fishery with the commercial, charter and recreational sectors and will be seeking feedback during a public consultation process which will commence soon - no date set at time of publication.

Studies have shown declines in the fish's biomass, which is calculated by determining how many Snapper eggs are in the water and what proportion of the adult population were spawning.

Survey results have shown -

Spencer Gulf between 2013-14 and 2018:

  • Northern Spencer Gulf biomass declined by 15.7 per cent, from 127 (+/- 53)* tonnes to 107 (+/- 58) tonnes.
  • Southern Spencer Gulf biomass declined by 30.3 per cent, from 122 (+/- 40) tonnes to 85 (+/- 25) tonnes.
  • Total Spencer Gulf biomass declined by 22.9 per cent, from 249 (+/- 67) tonnes to 192 (+/- 63) tonnes.

Gulf St Vincent between 2013-14 and 2018:

  • Northern Gulf St Vincent biomass declined by 85.3 per cent, from 1890 (+/- 1,039) tonnes to 277 (+/- 125) tonnes.
  • Southern Gulf St Vincent biomass declined by 90.6 per cent, from 700 (+/- 322) tonnes to 66 (+/- 33) tonnes.
  • Total Gulf St Vincent biomass declined by 86.8 per cent, from 2590 (+/- 1,088) tonnes to 343 (+/- 130) tonnes.

South Australian Minister for Primary Industries Tim Whetstone said the government was looking at various options to reach sustainable snapper stocks, including further restrictions for the upcoming summer.

"Last December the Marshall Liberal Government implemented eight spatial closures and cut charter boat bag limits as an interim measure to protect snapper stocks," Mr Whetstone said.

"This latest scientific information shows we need to implement strong restrictions across all sectors to protect the current snapper stock and enable them to recover."

  • SARDI - South Australian Research and Development Institute
  • All figures in brackets ( ) represent the standard error variance around the mean.
This story Drastic action needed as SA snapper numbers plummet first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.