The count is on for our snapper stocks with a spawning biomass survey starting today in Gulf St Vincent after a similar successful trip in December in Spencer Gulf.
During the 12-day surveys, scientists from the South Australian Research and Development Institute sample fertilised snapper eggs and adult fish to obtain a picture of how many snapper are spawning in the area.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said spawning biomass surveys are an important tool to help assess snapper numbers in South Australia's gulfs.
"The science remains a critical part of our snapper recovery efforts and will help inform management decisions on future harvest strategies for each of the South Australian snapper stocks," said Minister Whetstone.
"These surveys are part of the Marshall Liberal Government's $1 million commitment to conduct snapper research during the 2019-20 spawning period and will continue through to February.
"This research program, which has been endorsed by the Snapper Management Advisory Committee, is aimed at ensuring we have the best available information to determine the status of our snapper stocks.
"The tough decision to extend the south-east spawning closure and close fishing in the gulfs and West Coast through to 31 January 2023 has been made based on the best available scientific information.
"The science and anecdotal evidence from fishers all point to critically low snapper numbers in our gulfs and prompted the need for strong action to be taken to protect the fishery into the future.
"Unfortunately the former Labor Government cut snapper research funding and failed to take action to protect stock numbers."
In addition to the two spawning biomass surveys, SARDI is working strategically with commercial fishers to sample adult snapper throughout the South Australia. These fish will provide important biological information to support the assessment of the stocks
A cross-jurisdictional collaboration with the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) to assess the status of the south east population shared with western Victoria is also being carried out.
Minister Whetstone said the stock assessment program will feed into other snapper initiatives to support the recovery of the fishery.
This includes a $500,000 snapper re-stocking trial, reform of the Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery and the establishment of a Snapper Management Advisory Committee.
"We are committed to growing sustainable fisheries and these measures have the big picture in mind," said Minister Whetstone.
"If the scientific evidence shows an improvement in snapper stocks to an extent where sustainable fishing can recommence before February 2023, the State Government will work with industry and fishery managers on a strategy to safely re-open the fishery.
"However such a measure can only be considered through having the most up-to-date data on our stocks."
For more information on the latest management measures to protect South Australian snapper stocks visit pir.sa.gov.au/snapper