New measures to protect South Australia's iconic Snapper fishery for the future are now in place.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the new management measures from 1 November, introduced after industry and public consultation, aim to allow the snapper fishery time to recover.
"Snapper numbers in our gulfs are dangerously low – the science and anecdotal evidence from fishers all tell us this – and strong action must be taken to protect the fishery for the future," said Minister Whetstone.
"After extensive public consultation we made the tough decision to implement a total closure on snapper fishing for the Spencer Gulf, West Coast and Gulf St Vincent which has begun today and will remain in place until 31 January 2023.
"Controlled snapper fishing will be permitted in the South East waters during the non-spawning period between 1 February and 31 October each year, as these stocks have been assessed as sustainable.
"Low numbers of juvenile snapper entering the fishery over a long period of time, combined with a decline in the overall biomass of the fishery, and a reduction in commercial catch rates, means the Spencer Gulf/West Coast Snapper fishery is now depleted, and Gulf St Vincent is for the first time classified as 'depleting'.
"Over the past five years snapper biomass in Spencer Gulf has reduced by an estimated 23 per cent and biomass in Gulf St Vincent has reduced by an estimated 87 per cent.
"The passion our community has for the future of the snapper fishery was clear in the 900-plus submissions we received during consultation on the future management of snapper.
"I thank South Australia's fishers for taking a conservative and self-restraining approach to fishing for snapper over October in recognition of the severely depleted fish stocks. For the month of October, commercial longline fishers have caught one third less snapper harvested last October and little over half of snapper harvested during October 2017.
"Only 21 commercial longliners have reported catching snapper during October compared with 27 fishers last October and 36 longliners in October 2017.
"We are committed to growing sustainable fisheries and these measures − along with our long-term commercial fishery reform agenda – have the big picture in mind.
"With the summer nearly on us and the new management measures in place, I remind recreational fishers of the good fishing and eating other species can bring - such as Nannygai, Tommy Ruff, Snook, Yellowfin Whiting, Yelloweye Mullet, Silver Trevally, Western Australian Salmon, Mulloway, Flathead and Leather Jackets.
"A range of support measures is being made available to help fishers adjust to the closure of the snapper fishery, including fee relief for commercial fishers, business diversification support for charter boat operators, and mental health and wellbeing support services.
"The State Government is also investing $500,000 over two years from the Regional Growth Fund to undertake a snapper restocking trial in Spencer Gulf and $1 million is being invested in more snapper scientific monitoring and research during the 2019-20 spawning season."
For full details of the closure, and information on mental and health wellbeing support, visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/snapper