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Golden Snapper (2018)

Lutjanus johnii

  • Shane Penny (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Amanda Dawson (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Fabian Trinnie (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Stephen Newman (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Summary

There are five stocks of Golden Snapper across Australia’s north. In WA and QLD’s Gulf of Carpentaria stock is sustainable, in the Darwin region of the NT it is depleted, and it is undefined in regional NT and east coast QLD.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia GDSMF, NDSMF, PFTIMF, PTMF Sustainable Catch, indicator species status
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PFTIMF
Pilbara Fish Trawl (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
PTMF
Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (WA)
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Stock Structure

Golden Snapper is a moderately long-lived (i.e. 30 years), late-maturing species that can reach a length of one metre [Cappo et al. 2013]. They are broadly distributed throughout the tropical and sub-tropical Indo-West Pacific and exhibit a biphasic life history pattern, where juveniles spend several years in estuarine and inshore reef habitats before migrating offshore (to a depth of at least 80 m) as they near sexual maturity [Allen 1985, Kiso and Mahyam, 2003, Tanaka et al. 2011].

The distribution of this species within Australian waters extends from the Kimberley region in Western Australia, around the north of the continent to the southern Great Barrier Reef (around Rockhampton) [Travers et al. 2009]. A study of the stock structure of Golden Snapper across this range suggests that many adult populations may exist at a scale of tens of kilometres, although boundaries are unknown [Saunders et al. 2016].

Golden Snapper experience moderate to high harvest rates in some Australian fisheries (particularly those targeting adults of this late-maturing species) which can cause localised depletion. However, it is extremely difficult to collect relevant biological and catch-and-effort information to assess each adult population unit. There are known differences between the concentrated fishing effort around Darwin and the more diffuse effort in other surrounding areas of the Northern Territory, as such, the species is assessed and managed in different management units in the Northern Territory.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level―Western Australia; and the management unit level―Darwin Region, and Regional Northern Territory (Northern Territory); Gulf of Carpentaria, East Coast (Queensland).

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Stock Status

Western Australia

Golden Snapper are not a target species in the demersal fisheries of Western Australia but are landed in small quantities as byproduct. The total commercial catch of Golden Snapper in Western Australian demersal fisheries in 2017 was 1.4 tonnes (t). Golden Snapper are also landed by recreational (~3 t) and charter fishers (~4.5 t), primarily in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The catch of recreational and charter fishers is greater than the commercial catch of this species. The low catches of Golden Snapper in Western Australia are derived from a limited area compared to the distribution of the species. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

Furthermore, Barramundi has been classified as a sustainable stock in the Kimberley Gillnet and Barramundi Managed Fishery (Western Australia) management unit [Newman at al. 2018a]. Barramundi is an indicator species [Newman at al. 2018b] for the North Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Resource (i.e. the aquatic resources in the nearshore and estuarine ecological suite as defined for the purposes of fisheries management). Given the sustainable status of Barramundi as an indicator species, there is a low level of risk to the biological sustainability all species harvested in the North Coast Nearshore and Estuarine Resource. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of Golden Snapper in Western Australia unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Golden Snapper in Western Australia is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Golden Snapper biology [Cappo et al. 2013, Hay et al. 2005, Welch et al. 2014]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Golden Snapper 30 years, 990 mm FL, 15 kg Varies by location and sex: Males 4–9 years and ~400–600 mm FL, Females 6–10 years and 400–650 mm FL
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Golden Snapper

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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Otter Trawl
Unspecified
Fish Trap
Recreational
Spearfishing
Charter
Hook and Line
Indigenous
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Charter
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Limited entry
Passenger restrictions
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Commercial
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Total allowable catch
Total allowable effort
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Laws of general application
Recreational
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Licence (Recreational Fishing from Boat License)
Possession limit
Size limit
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Western Australia
34 in Charter, <3 in GDSMF, 4 in NDSF, <3 in PFTIMF, <3 in PTMF, <3 in WL (NC || GC || WC)
Charter
Tour Operator (WA)
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
NDSF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery (WA)
PFTIMF
Pilbara Fish Trawl (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
PTMF
Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (NC || GC || WC)
Open Access in the North Coast, Gascoyne Coast and West Coast Bioregions (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 1.42t in GDSMF, NDSMF, PFTIMF, PTMF
Charter 4.52 t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 2.97 t
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PFTIMF
Pilbara Fish Trawl (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
PTMF
Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (WA)

Western Australia – Active Vessels Data is unreportable as there were fewer than three vessels operating in the PFTIMF, PTMF and WL.

Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) A Recreational Fishing from Boat License is required for the use of a powered boat to fish or to transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location.

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch) Boat-based recreational catch is from 1 September 2015–31 August 2016. These data are derived from those reported in Ryan et al. 2017.

Western Australia – Indigenous (management methods) Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by Indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

Northern Territory Charter (management methods) In the Northern Territory, charter operators are regulated through the same management methods as the recreational sector but are subject to additional limits on license and passenger numbers.

Northern Territory – Indigenous (management methods) The Fisheries Act 1988 (NT), specifies that “…without derogating from any other law in force in the Territory, nothing in a provision of this Act or an instrument of a judicial or administrative character made under it limits the right of Aboriginals who have traditionally used the resources of an area of land or water in a traditional manner from continuing to use those resources in that area in that manner”.

Queensland – Commercial (fishing methods) In Queensland, Golden Snapper is trawled in only one of the Queensland fisheries in which it is caught commercially - the Gulf of Carpentaria Developmental Fin Fish Trawl Fishery. Queensland – Commercial (catch) East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery (Queensland) catch is reported by financial year.

Queensland – Indigenous (fishing methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are able to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Golden Snapper - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Allen, GR 1985, FAO species catalogue, volume 6, snappers of the world. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125.
  2. Cappo, M, Marriott, RJ and Newman, SJ 2013, James’s rule and causes and consequences of a latitudinal cline in the demography of John’s Snapper (Lutjanus johnii) in coastal waters of Australia, Fishery Bulletin, 111(4): 309–324.
  3. Grubert, MA, Saunders, TM, Martin, JM, Lee, HS and Walters, CJ 2013, Stock assessments of selected Northern Territory fishes, Fishery report 110, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Darwin.
  4. Hay, T, Knuckey, I, Calogeras, C and Errity, C 2005, Population and biology of the Golden Snapper, Fishery report 21, Northern Territory Government, Darwin.
  5. Kiso, K and MI Mahyam 2003, Distribution and feeding habits of juvenile and young John’s snapper Lutjanus johnii in the Matang mangrove estuary, west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Fisheries Science, 69: 563–568.
  6. Leigh, GM and O'Neill, MF 2016, Gulf of Carpentaria Finfish Trawl Fishery: Maximum Sustainable Yield, Agri-Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
  7. Newman, SJ, Brown, JI, Fairclough, DV, Wise, BS, Bellchambers, LM, Molony, BW, Lenanton, RCJ, Jackson, G, Smith, KA, Gaughan, DJ, Fletcher, WJ, McAuley, RB and Wakefield, CB 2018, A risk assessment and prioritisation approach to the selection of indicator species for the assessment of multi-species, multi-gear, multi-sector fishery resources. Marine Policy 88: 11–22.
  8. Newman, SJ, Wakefield, C, Skepper, C, Boddington, D, Jones, R and Smith, E 2018, North Coast Demersal Resource Status Report 2017. pp. 127-133. In: Gaughan, D.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.). Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2016/17: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 237p.
  9. Northern Territory Government (NTG) 2017, Status of key Northern Territory Fish Stocks Report 2015, Northern Territory Government Department of Resources, fishery report 118.
  10. O’Neill, MF, Leigh, GM, Martin, JM, Newman, SJ, Chambers, M, Dichmont, CM and Buckworth, RC 2011, Sustaining productivity of tropical Red Snappers using new monitoring and reference points, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2009/037, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Brisbane.
  11. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM, Wise, BS 2017, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries research Report No. 287. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth. 
  12. Saunders, TM, Welch, D, Barton, D, Crook, D, Dudgeon, C, Hearnden, M, Maher, S, Ovenden, J, Taillebois, L and Taylor J 2016, Optimising the management of tropical coastal reef fish through the development of Indigenous capability. FRDC final report 2013/017.
  13. Tanaka, K, Hanamura, Y, Chong, VC, Watanabe, S, Man, A, Kassim, FM, Kodama, M and Ichikawa, T 2011, Stable isotope analysis reveals ontogenetic migration and the importance of a large mangrove estuary as a feeding ground for juvenile John’s snapper Lutjanus johnii. Fisheries Science 77: 809–816.
  14. Travers, MJ, Potter, IC, Clarke, KR, Newman, SJ and Hutchins, JB 2009, The inshore fish faunas over soft substrates and reefs on the tropical west coast of Australia differ and change with latitude and bioregion. Journal of Biogeography, 37: 148–169.
  15. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  16. Welch, DJ, Robins, J, Saunders, T, Courtney, T, Harry, A, Lawson, E, Moore, BR, Tobin, A, Turnbull, C, Vance, D and Williams, AJ 2014, Implications of climate change impacts on fisheries resources of northern Australia, part 2: Species profiles, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2010/565, James Cook University, Townsville.