Snapper


Latin name: Pagrus auratus


Common name: Pink Snapper

  • Better Choice

Wild Caught

Region:
VIC

Key Facts

  • The majority of snapper caught in VIC are from Port Phillip Bay, with minor quantities caught elsewhere.
  • A 2016 stock status report indicated that the stock in Port Phillip Bay is healthy.
  • The phasing out of commercial netting and a cap on longline effort means there are few sustainability concerns over the health of this stock.
  • Longlining in Port Phillip Bay presents low risk to endangered wildlife and marine habitat. Independent verification of marine wildlife interactions would be welcome in order to maintain this Better Choice rating into the future.

More information

  • VIC Port Phillip Bay Fishery (108t in 2015-16)

Snapper is a key target of commercial and recreational fisheries around Australia. The majority of snapper in VIC are caught in Port Phillip Bay, with minor quantities caught in other areas.

A 2016 stock assessment indicated that the health of the fished Victorian stock is good, and likely to remain so at current levels of fishing. It is likely that the amount of snapper caught in this fishery will reduce following the capping of longline effort in Port Phillip Bay in recent years, and with the phase out of net fishing. There is a significant recreational catch of around one third of the total Victorian snapper catch.

Snapper are predominantly caught using longlines in the Bay, with netting being phased out in the coming years. It is unlikely that significant interactions with endangered wildlife are occurring given the fishing method and distribution of endangered wildlife, although independent verification of this would be welcome in order to maintain this Better Choice rating into the future.

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Wild Caught

Region:
WA

Key Facts

  • A number of different stocks of snapper are caught in WA.
  • Some concern has been noted around the stock status of snapper in WA, although stocks are not considered to be overfished.
  • Upcoming stock assessments in WA should provide some clarity and enable management actions to be set appropriately to protect the stocks.
  • If stocks continue to decline to an overfished status, it is unlikely that an amber rating in WA could be supported in the future.
  • While line fishing is unlikely to significantly impact marine wildlife, there are concerns over bycatch of Australian sea lions in nets in WA. Gillnet exclusion zones around breeding colonies are due to be implemented mid-2018.

More information

  • WA West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource, Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Resource, South Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (313t in 2015)

Snapper is a key target of commercial and recreational fisheries around Australia. The recreational catch in some states in Australia is a significant portion of the overall catch of snapper, and can equal or exceed commercial landings.

While the distributions of snapper stocks around WA remains complex, there has been significant investment in assessing the health of multiple different stocks, with assessment reports due in in both jurisdictions that should be used to inform better stock-based management.

Snapper are caught in a number of fisheries in WA, where different stocks are targeted. The information used to inform stock assessments is robust. In one area, high fishing activity was previously noted as of concern by fishery managers; management measures put in place appear to be supporting recovery of the stock, and upcoming fishery assessment reports should provide more clarity around the health of the stock. Concern was noted in the other parts of WA, with snapper stocks at some risk from fishing levels. Management controls should be able to ensure these stocks do not become depleted. It is not thought that WA stocks are overfished at this point.

Should declines in the status of stocks in WA continue to be reported, this would indicate that stocks are becoming overfished. In this event, it is unlikely that an amber rating could be supported in the future.

Snapper are predominantly caught using lines and demersal gillnet methods. While line fishing poses minimal risks to endangered animals, gillnet fishing can be a high risk to marine wildlife, including Australian sea lions and great white sharks. Gillnet exclusion zones around sea lion breeding colonies are set to be implemented by mid-2018. There is no observer program in operation in the WA fishery, and issues with the reliability of reporting in gillnet fishery logbooks have arisen in the past.

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Wild Caught

Region:
QLD, NSW, New Zealand

Key Facts

  • Snapper is a key target in commercial and recreational fisheries around Australia and New Zealand.
  • The stock status of snapper fished in NSW and QLD is of concern, with fishery metrics indicating that the stock is depleted.
  • In New Zealand,the majority of stocks are under pressure and with clear indications of overfishing and depleted stocks in many areas.
  • Snapper are mainly caught using lines and fish traps in Australia, which have a limited impact on both endangered wildlife and marine habitats.
  • Trawling for snapper in NZ is of high risk to endangered wildlife, including Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins.

More information

  • QLD Rocky Reef Fin Fish Fishery (72t in 2016)
  • NSW Ocean Trap and Line Fishery (149t in 2016)
  • Imported from New Zealand (2,299t imported in 2016)

Snapper is a key target of commercial and recreational fisheries in Australia and New Zealand. The recreational catch in some states in Australia is a significant portion of the overall catch of snapper, and can equal or exceed commercial landings.

A single stock of snapper exists along the eastern seaboard of Australia, with the stock fished by both QLD and NSW using different management arrangements. QLD fishery statistics indicate concerns over the status of this stock, including declining catch rates (a measure of how easy it is to catch fish), low presence of young snapper entering into the population and few mature fish. In addition, data used to inform the stock assessment is over a decade old, and is highly likely to be unreliable. Snapper are assessed as ‘growth overfished’ in fishery reports, which means the larger fish have been fished out and juvenile fish are now being caught. Catching fish at too small a size means they are not able to reproduce and support the stock over the long-term.

It remains unclear as to whether management actions introduced have supported any recovery of this long-lived fish species, which can live up to 40 years.

There are also multiple stocks of snapper targeted around New Zealand. Key stocks remain overfished. Some management measures have been put in place, such as restricting recreational fishing catch. Some stocks have demonstrated limited recovery, but not yet up to a level that could be considered sustainable.

Snapper in QLD are predominantly caught using hand lines in QLD, and line and trap methods in NSW. These fishing methods have a low impact on endangered wildlife and marine habitats, and generally result in low quantities of other marine species. Independent observation is necessary in both fisheries to support log-book reporting by fishers.

Snapper are predominantly caught in trawl fisheries in NZ. Trawling areas overlap with the habitat of both Hector’s (Endangered on the IUCN Red List) and Maui’s (Critically Endangered) dolphins, and on-going trawling puts the future of both species at risk. In addition, trawling affects endangered seabirds, including Salvin’s albatross (Vulnerable), and is likely putting the population at risk.

Snapper is found around most of the coastline of Australia, and is fished in WA, SA, VIC, NSW and QLD. The stock structure of this species is complex but reasonably well understood; for example, scientific research indicates that the different jurisdictions fish different stocks, but there are also a number of individual stocks within each state. The stock structure of snapper is similar in NZ, with different stocks identified around the coastline. Again, some stocks are defined as ‘overfished’, and there is significant concern in other fishing zones.

There are a number of different stocks fished in SA and WA. In SA, there are concerns about stock status and declining catches in most regions, with the exception of northern Gulf St Vincent, where stocks are considered healthy. In WA, the health of stocks varies considerably. Stocks have been defined as overfished along the majority of the west coast of WA, with some inshore stocks still healthy.

Snapper is a long-lived species that matures relatively late in life, which means that overfished stocks take a long time to recover to healthy levels if fishing pressure is reduced. However, as a result of the popularity of this fish, attempts to implement management actions to protect the stock, such as reducing the number of fish that can be caught, has been met with significant challenges in some states from both recreational and commercial fishers.

There is some evidence to suggest stock recovery in some areas. For example, reductions in allowed catches of snapper have been imposed in WA, and there are tentative indications that some stocks are in recovery. In SA, management actions have recently been implemented, including area closures to protect spawning stocks. There has also been a shift from hand lines to longlines, which are more likely to catch sharks as bycatch.

Wild Caught

Region:
SA

Key Facts

  • The status of South Australian Pink Snapper is currently under review.

More information

  • SA Marine Scalefish Fishery (382t in 2016)

Currently under review.