Snapper closures in South Australia

Snapper is an iconic fish species in South Australia and is a primary target species of the commercial, recreational and charter boat fishing sectors – and all sectors have raised concerns over Snapper stocks.

Fish stocks are constantly changing and are monitored by scientific programs administered by PIRSA.

Managing fish stocks is an ongoing collaboration between government, industry and the community.

Changes from December 2018

Changes to managing South Australia's iconic Snapper fishery have been agreed with all key fishing sectors, following consultation between the commercial, charter and recreational fishing sectors and State Government.

Gulf St Vincent – Snapper fishing closures

From midday 15 December 2018 to midday 31 March 2019, 2 spatial closures in Gulf St Vincent will be in effect. A spatial closure at Ardrossan in the northern part of Gulf St Vincent has been removed due to a recent scientific assessment showing it has not been effective.

The 2 new closures each cover a 4km radius, centred around their coordinates:

  1. part of Tapley Shoals: latitude 35° 06.100' S, longitude 137° 56.200' E
  2. an area off Sellicks Beach: latitude 35° 19.900' S, longitude 138° 19.000' E

Within these closures:

  • Fishing for Snapper is prohibited.
  • Possession of Snapper is prohibited. Do not carry Snapper you have caught in other waters into these closure zones.
  • Other fishing activities are allowed.

View a map of the the Gulf St Vincent spatial closures (PDF 404.2 KB or PNG 282.7 KB)

Spencer Gulf – fishing closures to protect Snapper

From midday 15 December 2018 to midday 15 December 2019, 5 closures in Spencer Gulf will be in effect.

The 5 closures each cover a 4km radius, centred around their coordinates:

  1. Estelle Star: latitude 33° 58.900' S, longitude 136° 50.900' E
  2. Jurassic Park: latitude 33° 54.700' S , longitude 137° 19.100' E
  3. Santa Anna: latitude 33° 36.300' S, longitude 137° 36.300' E
  4. Illusion: latitude 33° 28.900' S, longitude 137° 32.600' E
  5. Port Lowly: latitude 33° 01.000' S, longitude 137° 48.300' E

Within the areas of Estelle Star, Jurassic Park, Santa Anna and Illusion, from midday 15 December 2018 to midday 15 December 2019:

  • Fishing for any species is prohibited.
  • Possession of Snapper is prohibited. Do not carry Snapper you have caught in other waters into these closure zones.

Within the Point Lowly closure from midday 15 December 2018 to midday 15 December 2019:

  • only Snapper fishing is prohibited
  • other fishing activities are allowed
  • possession of Snapper is allowed to enable transit to the Point Lowly boat ramp.

View a map of the 5 Spencer Gulf spatial closures (PDF 404.2 KB or PNG 282.7 KB)

View map of Point Lowly fishing closure to protect Snapper (PDF 245.8 KB or PNG 190.8 KB)

You can fish for Snapper outside the closures

Fishing for Snapper outside the closures is allowed. Make sure you know of all fishing closures around South Australia.

The following Snapper limits apply to recreational fishers:

Minimum legal length: 38 cm
Personal daily bag limit:

  • Snapper 38 to 60 cm: 5
  • Snapper over 60 cm: 2

Daily boat limit when 3 or more people on board:

  • Snapper 38 to 60 cm: 15
  • Snapper over 60 cm: 6

Charter boat fishing for Snapper

Charter Boats must observe all closures.

Reduced bag limits for Snapper caught on charter

The individual bag limit for Snapper caught on a charter boat is reduced to 3 small fish and 1 big fish per person. There is no boat limit.

Read more about the Charter Boat Fishery

Commercial Snapper fishing arrangements

Commercial management arrangements in Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent will continue. These include trip limits, hook limits and no longlining on public holidays.

Why we've made these changes

In November 2018 PIRSA's research division, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) finalised its Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2017 stock assessment report (PDF 8.6 MB).

The SARDI report has identified Snapper stocks in the Spencer Gulf and West Coast areas as ‘depleted'.

Snapper stocks in the Gulf St Vincent and 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.

A stock classified as a ‘depleted stock', means a spawning stock biomass has been reduced through catch and/or fishing effects, such that recruitment is impaired.

Current management is not adequate to recover the stock, or adequate management measures have been put in place but have not yet resulted in measurable improvements.

Scientific studies undertaken by SARDI Aquatic Sciences indicate that Snapper fishery performance is strongly influenced by recruitment (the number of juvenile fish that are spawned and reach a size/age where they enter the fishery).

Recruitment is variable from year to year.

These studies have also shown that Snapper aggregate to spawn from late October to mid-February, peaking in mid-December, and are vulnerable to being caught during this time.

Given these findings, Snapper spawning aggregations must be protected and left undisturbed for as long as possible to maximise the opportunity for successful reproduction and recruitment.

Concerns over Snapper stocks have also been raised by the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, further prompting PIRSA's review.

Given this new scientific information and stakeholder concerns, new management measures are required to support recovery of the Spencer Gulf/West Coast stock and maintain sustainable stocks in Gulf St Vincent and South East.

Timeline of Snapper stock assessments and management

Snapper stock assessments and management responses from 2010

Page Last Reviewed: 14 Dec 2018
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