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Snapper (2018)

Chrysophrys auratus

  • Anthony Fowler (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Gary Jackson (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • John Stewart (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Paul Hamer (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

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Summary

Snapper is widely distributed in Australia and managed as twleve stocks. Seven are sustainable, one is recovering, three are depleted and one is undefined.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia West Coast CSLPMF, WCDGDLIMF, WCDSIMF Recovering Catch, fishing mortality rate, spawning potential ratio
Western Australia Shark Bay Oceanic GDSMF, NDSMF, PLF Depleted Catch, CPUE, estimated biomass
Western Australia South Coast JASDGDLMF, SCEMF, WL (SC), FBLC74 Sustainable Catch, fishing mortality rate, spawning potential ratio
Western Australia Shark Bay Inshore Denham Sound SBBSMNMF Sustainable Catch, estimated biomass
Western Australia Shark Bay Inshore Eastern Gulf SBBSMNMF Sustainable Catch, estimated biomass
Western Australia Shark Bay Inshore Freycinet Estuary SBBSMNMF Sustainable Catch, estimated biomass
CSLPMF
Cockburn Sound (Line and Pot) Managed Fishery (WA)
FBLC74
Fishing Boat Licence Conditions (WA)
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
JASDGDLMF
Joint Authority Southern Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Managed Fishery (Zone 1 & Zone 2) (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PLF
Pilbara Line Fishery (WA)
SBBSMNMF
Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDGDLIMF
West Coast Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDSIMF
West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
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Stock Structure

Snapper has a wide distribution in Australia, from the Gascoyne region on the west coast of Western Australia, around the south of the continent, and up to northern Queensland around Hinchinbrook Island [Kailola et al. 1993]. Within this broad distribution, the biological stock structure is complex.

Recent genetic studies of Snapper using microsatellite markers have led to a refined understanding of stock structure for the east Australian coast that have indicated greater complexity than previously thought. Snapper from Queensland to central New South Wales show little genetic differentiation and are considered to represent a single genetic stock [Morgan et al. in press], consistent with earlier studies using allozymes [Sumpton et al. 2008]. This stock is referred to as the East Coast Stock, with the Queensland and New South Wales components managed and assessed at the jurisdictional level. However, migratory dynamics between Queensland and New South Wales are not well understood and some studies have suggested limited long-range movements, with many fish showing extended periods of local residency [Harasti et al. 2015, Sumpton et al. 2003]. The majority of commercial landings in New South Wales are thought to consist of fish that recruit from local estuaries [Gillanders 2002]. In addition to the limited mixing within the stock, key biological traits of Snapper (such as the size and age at maturity) vary with latitude [Stewart et al. 2010]. It is therefore appropriate to manage and report on stock status of the East Coast biological stock of Snapper at the jurisdictional level – as Queensland and New South Wales jurisdictional stocks.

It is now considered that Snapper from eastern Victoria are genetically differentiated from those to the north of Eden on the southern coast of New South Wales [Morgan et al. unpublished]. As such, Snapper from Wilsons Promontory to southern New South Wales are considered to be a separate biological stock that is now referred to as the Eastern Victorian stock. Although there is low genetic variation between the eastern and western sides of Wilsons Promontory [Meggs and Austin 2003, Morgan et al. unpublished], separation between these populations has been supported by tagging and otolith chemistry studies [Coutin et al. 2003, Hamer et al. 2011]. Snapper to the west of Wilsons Promontory, including the important fisheries of Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, constitute the Western Victorian biological stock. This extends westward from Wilsons Promontory to near the mouth of the Murray River in south eastern South Australia [Donnellan and McGlennon 1996, Fowler et al. 2017, Hamer et al. 2011, Sanders 1974].

The South Australian fishery was originally divided into six management units, due to uncertainty about movement among different regional populations [Fowler et al. 2013]. However, a recent study evaluated the stock structure and adult movement among regional populations within South Australia, and also with western Victoria [Fowler 2016, Fowler et al. 2017], based on inter-regional comparisons of otolith chemistry and increment widths, as well as population characteristics. The study differentiated three stocks. The Western Victorian stock which extends westward into south-eastern South Australia depends on recruitment into, and subsequent emigration from, Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. As such, this is a cross-jurisdictional stock, although the components from the two states are still managed independently. The two other stocks are wholly located within South Australia. The Spencer Gulf/West Coast stock depends on recruitment into Northern Spencer Gulf from where some fish emigrate to replenish the populations of Southern Spencer Gulf and the west coast of Eyre Peninsula. The third stock is the Gulf St. Vincent stock, which relies on recruitment into Northern Gulf St. Vincent, and subsequent emigration to Southern Gulf St. Vincent and Investigator Strait [Fowler et al. 2016].

In Western Australia, Snapper is currently divided into six management units. At the smaller geographic scale inside Shark Bay, genetically-related but biologically separate stocks have been identified in the Eastern Gulf, Denham Sound and Freycinet Estuary based on otolith chemistry and tagging [Bastow et al. 2002, Edmonds et al. 1999, Gardner et al. 2017, Johnson et al. 1986, Moran et al. 2003, Norriss et al. 2012]. At the wider scale, Snapper in oceanic waters off the Western Australian coast that comprise the three remaining management units, i.e. Shark Bay oceanic, West Coast and South Coast, show low levels of genetic differentiation (microsatellites) over hundreds of kilometers consistent with a semi-continuous genetic stock where gene flow is primarily limited by geographic distance [Gardner and Chaplin 2011, Gardner et al. 2017]. Otolith chemistry has indicated residency of adult Snapper in the Gascoyne, West and South Coast bioregions, but with recruitment likely coming from multiple nursery areas [Fairclough et al. 2013, Wakefield et al. 2011]. Tagging studies support these findings with the majority of adults tagged at the key spawning locations in the Gascoyne and West Coast bioregions recaptured within 100 km, as well as location philopatry of adults that aggregate to spawn in embayments on the west coast [Crisafulli et al. in press, Moran et al. 2003, Wakefield et al. 2011].

Here, assessment of stock status for Snapper is presented at the biological stock level—Shark Bay inshore Eastern Gulf, Shark Bay inshore Denham Sound, Shark Bay inshore Freycinet Estuary (Western Australia); Eastern Victoria (Victoria), Western Victoria (Victoria and South Australia), Gulf St Vincent, Spencer Gulf/West Coast (South Australia); the management unit level—South Coast, Shark Bay Oceanic and West Coast (Western Australia); and the jurisdictional level–Queensland and New South Wales.

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Stock Status

Shark Bay Inshore Denham Sound

The most recent integrated model-based stock assessment (completed in 2015) that included data to 2012, indicated that spawning biomass was well above the management target of 40 per cent of unfished biomass [Jackson et al. 2015]. Given the very conservative management arrangements that have been in effect since 2003, and the corresponding low level of catches against the target ranges (see below), the biological stock is not considered to be recruitment impaired.

The commercial catch of Snapper from the Denham Sound biological stock was around 2 tonnes (t) in 2017, within the target range of < 3 t. The recreational catch (including charter sector) in 2016 (no estimates for 2017 available) was around 7 t, within the target range of < 12 t. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the biological stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Shark Bay Inshore–Denham Sound (Western Australia) biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Shark Bay Inshore Eastern Gulf

The most recent integrated model-based stock assessment (completed in 2015) that included data to 2012, indicated that spawning biomass was well above the management target of 40 per cent of unfished biomass [Jackson et al. 2015]. Given the very conservative management arrangements that have been in effect since 2003, and the corresponding low level of catches against the target ranges (see below), the biological stock is not considered to be recruitment impaired.

The commercial catch of Snapper from the Eastern Gulf biological stock was < 0.5 t in 2017, well within the target range of < 3 t. The recreational catch (including charter sector) in 2016 (no estimates for 2017 available) was around 4 t, well within the target range of < 12 t. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the biological stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Shark Bay Inshore–Eastern Gulf (Western Australia) biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Shark Bay Inshore Freycinet Estuary

The most recent integrated model-based stock assessment (completed in 2015) that included data to 2013, indicated that spawning biomass was above the management target level of 40 per cent of unfished biomass [Jackson et al. 2015]. Given the very conservative management arrangements that have been in effect since 2003, and the corresponding low level of catches against the target ranges (see below), the biological stock is not considered to be recruitment impaired.

The commercial catch of Snapper from the Freycinet Estuary biological stock in 2017 was around 0.5 t, within the target range of < 1 t. The recreational catch (including charter sector) in 2016 (no estimates for 2017 available) was around 4 t, just within the target range of < 4 t. This level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the biological stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the Shark Bay Inshore–Freycinet Estuary (Western Australia) biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Shark Bay Oceanic

The most recent integrated model-based stock assessment (completed in 2017) that included data to the 2015–16 season indicated that spawning biomass in 2015 was around the management limit level of 20 per cent of the unfished biomass [Jackson et al. 2018]. The stock is considered to be recruitment impaired.

The commercial catch of Snapper from the Shark Bay Oceanic management unit in the 2016–17 season was 133 t which is well below the TACC (277 t) and below the annual 'tolerance' range of approximately 230–240 t. Commercial catch rate was below the annual limit reference level of 500 kg/standard boat day) in the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 seasons. The recreational catch (includes charter) in 2016 (no estimates for 2017 available) was around 30 t. This level of fishing mortality is expected to prevent the stock from recovering from its recruitment impaired state.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Shark Bay Oceanic (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a depleted stock.

South Coast

The most recent (completed in 2015) stock assessment of Snapper on the south coast of Western Australia [Norriss et al. 2016] that included data to 2014 indicated that estimates of fishing mortality rate and spawning potential ratio were between the management target and threshold levels. The stock is not considered to be recruitment impaired.

The total commercial catch of Snapper from the South Coast management unit in 2017 was 44 t. The recreational catch in 2016 (no estimates for 2017 available) was around 6 t. While there are no formal catch limits in place, under the current catch levels that are well within the historic range, the level of fishing mortality, estimated to be above the reference level (i.e. F=M), is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the South Coast (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

West Coast

Assessments completed in 2007, 2009 and 2014, based on catch curve analyses of age composition data, indicated that fishing mortality rate (F) in the West Coast management unit of Western Australia exceeded the limit reference point of 1.5 times the natural mortality rate [Department of Fisheries, 2015, Fairclough et al. 2009, Fairclough et al. 2014, Wise et al. 2007]. Significant changes were made to the management of the commercial and recreational sectors between 2007 and 2010 to recover stocks, in response to the high fishing mortality rates. To reduce fishing mortality to a level that would allow the stock to recover, the total retained catch of Snapper by all sectors had to be reduced by at least 50 per cent, to no more than 163 t. Catches of Snapper by the commercial West Coast Demersal Scalefish Interim Managed Fishery in this region were above the acceptable level of 120 t for the commercial fishery between 2011 and 2014. Catches of Snapper by the recreational sector recently exceeded the acceptable level of 37 t [Fairclough et al. 2018]. Further management action was taken, which reduced annual commercial catches to less than 90 t [Fairclough et al. 2018], a level expected to allow recovery to continue. Unit entitlements were also reduced for the WCDGDLIMF to limit Snapper catches. Management is currently evaluating options to reduce recreational catches to ensure recovery continues.

An assessment in 2017 (based on age structure data from 2012–14) indicated that F was above the limit and spawning potential ratio (SPR) was between the limit and threshold reference points of SPR = 0.2–0.3. However, F had decreased from that derived from the previous period of age structure data in 2009–11 [Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, unpublished data]. Additional estimates of F were derived from the same age structures using a method that allows for a change in fishing mortality, i.e. for cohorts that have recruited to the fishery pre- and post- management changes commencing in 2008 [Fisher 2013]. This demonstrated that F estimates were lower for age classes recruited to the fishery after management changes vs those that had recruited before, i.e. F = 0.14 vs 0.27, demonstrating that there was a reduction in recent fishing mortality. The above evidence indicates that current fishing mortality is constrained by management to a level that should allow the stock to recover from its recruitment impaired state.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the West Coast (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a recovering stock.

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Biology

Snapper biology [Fowler et al. 2016, Jackson et al. 2010, Stewart et al. 2010, Wakefield et al. 2015, Wakefield et al. 2016]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Snapper 30–40 years, 1300 mm TL  2–7 years, 220–560 mm TL 
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Snapper
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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Hook and Line
Dropline
Trolling
Gillnet
Beach Seine
Haul Seine
Unspecified
Fish Trap
Longline (Unspecified)
Charter
Hook and Line
Recreational
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Charter
Licence
Commercial
Catch limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Recreational
Bag and boat limits
Catch limits
Gear restrictions
Licence
Possession limit
Seasonal closures
Size limit
Spatial closures
Active vessels
Western Australia
62 in Charter, <3 in CSLPMF, <3 in FBLC74, 16 in GDSMF, 17 in JASDGDLMF, <3 in NDSF, 5 in PLF, 3 in SBBSMNMF, 11 in SCEMF, 5 in WCDGDLIMF, 40 in WCDSIMF, 38 in WL (SC)
Charter
Tour Operator (WA)
CSLPMF
Cockburn Sound (Line and Pot) Managed Fishery (WA)
FBLC74
Fishing Boat Licence Conditions (WA)
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
JASDGDLMF
Joint Authority Southern Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Managed Fishery (Zone 1 & Zone 2) (WA)
NDSF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery (WA)
PLF
Pilbara Line Fishery (WA)
SBBSMNMF
Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDGDLIMF
West Coast Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDSIMF
West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 59.51t in CSLPMF, WCDGDLIMF, WCDSIMF, 49.03t in FBLC74, JASDGDLMF, SCEMF, WL (SC), 133.46t in GDSMF, NDSMF, PLF, 2.39t in SBBSMNMF
Charter 23.1554t in Charter,
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 80–100 t (2015–16) (all stocks/management units combined)
CSLPMF
Cockburn Sound (Line and Pot) Managed Fishery (WA)
FBLC74
Fishing Boat Licence Conditions (WA)
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
JASDGDLMF
Joint Authority Southern Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Managed Fishery (Zone 1 & Zone 2) (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PLF
Pilbara Line Fishery (WA)
SBBSMNMF
Shark Bay Beach Seine and Mesh Net Managed Fishery (WA)
SCEMF
South Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDGDLIMF
West Coast Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WCDSIMF
West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
WL (SC)
Open Access in the South Coast (WA)

Western Australia - Recreational (Catch) Ryan et al. 2017.

Western Australia – Recreational (Management Methods) In Western Australia, total recreational catch limits (that is, maximum catch limits) have been applied to stocks of Snapper in inner Shark Bay and the west coast, to aid recovery of stocks.

Queensland Indigenous (Management Methods) Under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are entitled 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.

New South WalesIndigenous (Management Methods) (a) Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement—allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances; for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest for themselves; (b) The Aboriginal cultural fishing authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; and (c) In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State's fisheries resources.

New South WalesRecreational (Catch) West et al. 2015.

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no Indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no Indigenous catch recorded.

South Australia – Recreational (Catch) Giri and Hall 2015.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Snapper - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Bastow, TP, Jackson, G, Edmonds, JS 2002, Elevated salinity and isotopic composition of fish otolith carbonate: stock delineation of snapper, Pagrus auratus, in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Marine Biology 141: 801–806.
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