Crimson Snapper

Latin name: Lutjanus erythropterus

Common names: Red Snapper, Small Mouth Nannygai, Tropical Snapper

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Wild Caught


Note: Choose WA crimson snapper caught using line and trap methods if available. If you can’t be sure or only available from the Pilbara trawl then choose a sustainable alternative below.

Key Facts

  • Crimson Snapper is a tropical reef fish species caught in QLD, the NT and WA.
  • Crimson snapper is caught in two multispecies fisheries in WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara, using line, trap and bottom trawl fishing methods. Around 80% of the WA catch is caught in the Pilbara trawl fishery.
  • WA crimson snapper populations are not directly assessed by scientists, instead it is inferred from the health of other species. Relatively high catches of crimson snapper create some concern under this arrangement, though there is no evidence of serious overfishing.
  • The Pilbara trawl fishery in which most crimson snapper are caught poses a serious risk to dolphin populations.
  • Line and trap fishing methods pose a low risk to vulnerable bycatch species and habitats and are a more sustainable choice.
  • The trawl fishery’s habitat impacts are relatively well understood, and their environmental risk is adequately managed.

More information

  • WA Pilbara Demersal Scalefish Fishery and Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery  (284t in 2021)

Crimson Snapper is a tropical reef fish species found across northern Australia but fished and managed by different jurisdictions. There are commercial fisheries in QLD, NT and WA.

Crimson Snapper are caught as a secondary species in multi-species line, trap and bottom trawl fisheries in the Kimberley and Pilbara. About 80% of the catch comes from bottom trawl fishing.

The trawl fishery has robust habitat management arrangements, and impacts of the fishery on habitats are well-studied.

Impacts of line and trap fishing on vulnerable habitats are less well understood, though the fishing method poses a low risk and extensive science-based marine parks across the Kimberley line and trap fishery afford considerable protection.

The health of Crimson snapper populations are not assessed directly, but on the basis of several other species that represent a proxy for the health of the suite of species in the fishery as a whole. This is concerning, as crimson snapper catches are significant at >250t/yr, a level that warrants direct scientific assessment. Given these significant catches and rudimentary management arrangements, there is considered some risk to crimson snapper populations though there is no evidence of serious overfishing.

Line and trap fishing methods used to catch crimson snapper are relatively targeted, and retain a broad range of species with little risk to endangered or vulnerable bycatch species and habitats.

WA crimson snapper are mostly caught in a trawl fishery that operates in the Pilbara. This fishery has considerable issues with the bycatch of dolphins in fishing nets, posing a serious risk to the impacted population.

Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions, as well as other fishery impacts, such as the type and volume of discarded catch. The line and trap fishery have no independent observation of fishing activity, but because line fishing methods are fairly targeted and have little threatened or protected species bycatch, there is low risk associated with this.

However, for the trawl fishery, since 2016 managers allowed trawl fishing boats to deactivate the onboard cameras that would have allowed independent scrutiny of fishing activity, as long as fishers voluntarily reported dolphin bycatch incidents that were within historic ranges. This creates three negative impacts – disincentivising fishers from reporting bycatch occurrences that exceed this range, removing the critical source of independent validation of bycatch reporting, and making public scrutiny of the fishery’s impacts more difficult. This is a serious failure of management and will require immediate effective action to improve the GoodFish ranking of this fishery in future. Trawl-caught crimson snapper is ranked GoodFish Say No for this reason.

Line and trap-caught crimson snapper are a much more sustainable seafood option and should be chosen over trawl-caught wherever possible.