Changes to managing South Australia’s iconic snapper including spatial closures in both the Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent have been agreed, following consultation with the commercial, charter and recreational fishing sectors.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said that the annual statewide snapper closure ends at midday on Saturday 15 December, and the combination of new scientific information and consultation across all fishing sectors had led to the new management arrangements.
“South Australia’s fishers will be able to fish for snapper in coastal waters from Saturday 15 December, however localised no-fishing zones will apply to aggregation sites in Gulf St Vincent until 31 March 2019 and in Spencer Gulf until 15 December 2019 as recommended by an historic agreement between recreational and commercial fishers,” said Minister Whetstone.
“New scientific information in a recent report from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), has identified snapper stocks in the Spencer Gulf and West Coast areas are ‘depleted’. This means the snapper stocks are critically low and without changing management, the snapper stocks will not recover.
“The long-term sustainability of our snapper stocks is the most important thing.
“The former Labor government had 16 years to address this problem and they failed to make the tough decisions needed. They tinkered around the edges and the latest snapper stock assessment is alarming.
“Snapper is an iconic fish species in South Australia and is loved by consumers and recreational fishers alike. The commercial sector, the fishing charter sector and the recreational sector have all raised concerns over snapper stocks.
“Managing fish stocks is an ongoing collaboration between government, industry and the community.
“The Marshall Liberal Government has been consulting with the various fishing sectors since 7 November on the latest science regarding snapper populations.
“A meeting on 12 December with the South Australian Fishing Alliance, FishinSA, RecFishSA, the Marine Fishers Association and the Surveyed Charter Boat Owners and Operators Association of South Australia reached a consensus across commercial, recreational and charter fishers about the need for new, localised fishing closures to protect snapper populations.
“Snapper stocks in Gulf St Vincent and the South East are identified in the report as ‘sustainable’ however information for Gulf St Vincent shows a downward trend on a similar path to that of the Spencer Gulf and West Coast.
“Given this new scientific information, fishing sector representatives and fisheries scientists agreed new management measures were required to provide additional protection to support recovery of the Spencer Gulf/West Coast stock and maintain sustainable populations of snapper in Gulf St Vincent and the South East.
The management changes to be implemented from 15 December are:
- In Spencer Gulf:
- four localised spatial closures which prohibit fishing for any species and no possession of snapper for 12 months (midday 15 December 2018 - midday 15 December 2019).
- a new spatial closure in Spencer Gulf at Point Lowly. The closure prohibits the take of snapper for 12 months but allows for other fishing activities and possession of snapper in transit to the Point Lowly boat ramp.
- In Gulf St Vincent:
- two new spatial closures which prohibit the take and possession of snapper until March 2018 (midday 15 December 2018 - midday 31 March 2019). These closures encompass part of Tapley Shoal and an area off Sellicks Beach, and allow for other fishing activities. The current spatial closure at Ardrossan in the northern part of Gulf St Vincent will be removed.
- the previous spatial closure in northern Gulf St Vincent has been removed based on new scientific information and advice from the commercial, charter boat and recreational fishers.
- Statewide: a reduction in the charter boat individual bag limit to three small fish and one big fish and no boat limit, as proposed in the draft charter boat management plan.
- Further discussions and consultation will occur in 2019 on additional measures to be applied in future to support rebuilding of snapper populations.
“Further consultation will be undertaken with all sectors early in the new year to discuss future additional management measures for all sectors. Tough decisions will need to be taken to secure the long-term sustainability of the fishery into the future and as a shared stock these decisions will impact all fishing sectors.
“Changes to long-term management arrangements of the commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery will be addressed through the Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform process that has recently been established.
“I encourage recreational fishers and charter boat fishers to enjoy the wide variety of other species in our waters such as ocean jackets, tommy ruffs, snook, yellowfin whiting, yellow eye mullet, silver trevally and Australian salmon that offer great eating and enjoyable catching, to allow our iconic species such as snapper to recover.
“If recreational fishers are targeting snapper over the current summer, please stick to your bag limit and refrain from the practice of catch and release fishing.”
Fishers should visit the PIRSA website www.pir.sa.gov.au/snapper or the SA Recreational Fishing Guide app for the full details, including maps. Commercial fishers will also receive correspondence directly from PIRSA.