Snapper management review 2019

South Australia faces a major challenge in relation to the sustainability of Snapper in this state. In June 2019, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) provided updated information on Snapper spawning biomass estimates from the Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM), which identified that over the past five years, biomass in Spencer Gulf has reduced by an estimated 23% and biomass in Gulf St Vincent has reduced by an estimated 87%.

This information was integrated into a recently finalised 2019 Snapper stock assessment (PDF 1.7 MB) which identified:

  • an extended period of poor recruitment of juveniles entering the Snapper stock, especially in Spencer Gulf
  • a reduction in commercial catch rates
  • concerning declines in biomass.

The report also confirmed the classification of the Snapper stocks in:

  • Spencer Gulf/West Coast as ‘depleted’
  • Gulf St Vincent as ‘depleting’ – the first time the Gulf St Vincent stock has received this assessment
  • South East as ‘sustainable’.

These findings support the need for urgent action to protect the future of Snapper stocks in South Australia.

New management measures for Snapper

From 1 November 2019 new management measures were introduced to achieve long-term improvement and return the Snapper fishery to sustainable stock levels.

These measures were introduced following consideration of the latest available science and feedback from all stakeholders.

What has changed?

  • Total Snapper closure apply to waters in the West Coast, Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent regions (PDF 347.9 KB) from 12.01 am on 1 November 2019 to 11.59 pm 31 January 2023.
  • Annual seasonal Snapper closure applies to waters in the South East region (PDF 347.9 KB) from 12.01 am on 1 November 2019 to 11.59 pm on 31 January each year.
  • During the closures, the targeting, take and/or possession of Snapper is prohibited in these waters. $315 on-the-spot fines or, if prosecuted, a maximum penalty of $20,000 may apply.
  • Accidentally hooked Snapper caught while fishing for other species must be carefully handled to immediately return it to the water. Catch and release fishing is strictly prohibited.
  • For the remainder of the year, the South East region will be open to fishing. However, to ensure protection of the South East Snapper stock, a total allowable catch (TAC) will be set and shared between all fishing sectors – commercial, recreational and charter. If the TAC is reached, the fishery will be closed.

See map of Snapper Closures 2019 – 2023 (PDF 347.9 KB)
View Frequently Asked Questions - Snapper management arrangements  (PDF 638.1 KB)

Commercial Snapper fishing restrictions

In addition to the closures, commercial fishers need to be aware of the following:

  • A total allowable commercial catch (TACC) has been set for the South East region from 1 February to 31 October each year. The proportional catch share for the commercial fishing sector will be maintained at 81% of the total allowable Snapper catch for all sectors, as in the management plan.
  • Consultation with the commercial sector and the Snapper Management Advisory Committee has been undertaken to determine how the TACC is managed.
  • Once the Commercial Marine Scalefish Fishery Reform process is finalised, commercial restrictions on fishing for Snapper will again be reviewed.
  • The tag system does not apply to commercial fishers.

Recreational Snapper fishing restrictions

In addition to the closures, recreational fishers need to be aware of the following:

  • A Total Allowable Recreational Catch (TARC) has been set for the South East region from 1 February to 31 October each year.
  • The recreational component of the TARC has been set at 6,000 kilograms (equivalent to 3,030 Snapper tags).
  • The recreational catch of Snapper in the South East will be managed through a tag system, not by current bag and boat limits. A minimum size limit of 38 cm limits will still apply.
  • Before a recreational fisher can target catching Snapper, recreational fishers will be required to have a recreational Snapper tag. Any legal-sized Snapper caught will have to be tagged immediately upon capture.
  • Recreational fishers must use release weights to maximise the survival of released Snapper.

Charter Snapper fishing restrictions

In addition to the closures, charter fishers need to be aware of the following:

  • A Total Allowable Recreational Catch (TARC) has been set for the South East region from 1 February to 31 October each year. The charter catch of Snapper in the South East will be managed through a tag system, not by current bag and boat limits. A minimum size limit of 38 cm limits will still apply.
  • The Charter Boat Fishery component of the TARC has been set at 7,500 kilograms (equivalent to 3,788 Snapper tags or 49 tags per active Charter Boat Fishery licence holder).
  • Charter fishers must use release weights to maximise the survival of releasing Snapper.
  • Tags will be transferable within the Charter Boat Fishery, but not to recreational fishers.
  • Recreational fishers that receive an allocation of tags will be able to use their tags on a charter boat.
  • There will be no limit on the number of tags a Charter Boat Fishery licence holder can have in their possession.

Find out more about Snapper management arrangements:

Consultation process

The State Government held workshops with the commercial, recreational and charter sectors in November and December 2018. This led to the development of additional management arrangements for the Snapper fishery which were introduced on 15 December 2018.

Following this, it was determined that further management measures would be necessary for all fishing sectors before the 2019-20 summer. Further workshops and consultation with Commercial and Charter Boat stakeholders, and the Ministers Recreational Fishing Advisory Council (MRFAC), were held throughout 2019. Feedback received through these processes were considered during the design of possible management scenarios.

Minutes from these stakeholder meetings are available below:

In August 2019, a consultation paper containing two scenarios for the management of Snapper was released for public consultation.

The feedback from this public consultation period, was considered as part of the finalisation of new management arrangements for the Snapper fishery.

Support for fishers

The State Government is aware the change in Snapper management arrangements will have economic and other impacts, particularly on commercial fishers and charter boat operators.

A new program has been established to promote and support the mental health and wellbeing of commercial fishers, charter operators and seafood processors. The Fisheries Family and Business (FaB) Support Program as part of a ‘Stay Afloat’ program is now available to assist those experiencing tough times.

Our Fisheries FaBs are experienced in discussing and addressing difficult issues that come about as a result of hardship and other adverse events. Mentors will:

  • work closely with other service providers such as Centrelink, Rural Financial Counselling and local health networks and connect people to those services as required
  • provide a free, informal, confidential, independent and understanding approach available for individuals, families or businesses in South Australia who may be affected by hardship.

The program is provided at no cost to the South Australian fisheries industry.

Counselling support contacts

You can contact our Fisheries FaB support mentors direct on their mobile:

Helen Lamont
Phone: 0409 885 606
Email: lamontconnections@gmail.com

Colleen White
Phone: 0409 388 649
Email: cwhitecounselling@gmail.com

Professional counselling support is available 24/7 through the Regional Access program:

Technical advice contact

For technical advice regarding a fishery, a licence or a lease, you can contact PIRSA:

More information on the Fisher FaB Support Program (PDF 330.1 KB)

How you can help

Fisheries Officers conduct regular patrols and inspections to monitor fishing activity both on land and at sea. However as South Australian waters are expansive, officers can’t be everywhere at all times.

The South Australian community can play an important role in protecting Snapper stocks by reporting suspicious or illegal fishing behaviour to PIRSA via:

All reports are recorded and used to inform compliance planning and operations.

More information

Page Last Reviewed: 30 Mar 2020
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