Saddletail Snapper

Latin name: Lutjanus malabaricus

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

  • Say No

Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Saddletail Snapper is a tropical reef fish species caught in QLD, the NT and WA.
  • Saddletail Snapper are caught in a multi-species hook and line fishery along the Great Barrier Reef Coast.
  • The QLD Saddletail Snapper fishery is likely in an overfished condition.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park provides best practice protection for habitats and the wider marine environment the fishery operates within.
  • A range of reforms have been introduced to the fishery's management in recent years, many of which represent best international practice in coral reef fishery management.

More information

  • QLD Reef Line Fishery (77t in 2020, 58t in 2019 )

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

Saddletail Snapper are caught as a secondary species in the multi-species Reef Line Fishery (which targets coral trout and red emperor).

A recent scientific assessment shows that Saddletail Snapper stocks are likely to be overfished, though the assessment’s results were highly uncertain. This is largely due to recreational fishing pressure, which takes most of the overall QLD catch.

Saddletail Snapper populations are provided a significant degree of protection in extensive Great Barrier Marine Park zones closed to fishing.

The impacts of line fishing on the marine environment are minimal. In QLD, fishing takes place around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which provides world-class science-based protection and monitoring of habitats and the wider ecosystem in the area of these fisheries. Recently established vessel monitoring systems are ensuring fishers are compliant with marine park regulations.

Serious climate-related environmental impacts in the forms of cyclone damage and coral bleaching events (where coral is under stress due to warm ocean waters) have occurred on the Great Barrier Reef in recent years. It is welcome that fishery and environmental managers are monitoring and managing these factors, with new measures designed to recover saddletail snapper populations and maintain species caught in the wider fishery at abundant and environmentally resilient population sizes.

It is likely the line fisheries in QLD pose minimal risk to most other species. 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. Unfortunately the QLD Government closed the observer program for all QLD managed fisheries in 2012. In the intervening six years, there has been no independent scrutiny of the impact of the fishery on other species.

Despite this issue, a range of other reforms have been implemented across the fishery since the last GoodFish assessment, many of which represent international best practice. The overfished state of QLD saddletail snapper populations is responsible for the ‘say no’ ranking in this assessment.