- Better Choice
- Snapper are caught in Victoria using long line and to a lesser extent by haul seine net and gillnet methods.
- The Victorian snapper stock, which forms breeding aggregations annually in Port Philip Bay, is healthy.
- Commercial net fishing is being phased out of the Port Philip Bay region where they are mostly caught, and longline fishing effort will be capped in 2022, reducing concerns over the health of the stock from commercial fishing.
- Longlining in Port Phillip Bay likely 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.
With its firm white flesh and large, meaty flake, Snapper is a highly regarded species loved by fishers and seafood lovers alike. It is a versatile fish, able to be cooked whole or as fillets. Try steaming, barbecuing or pan-frying fillets. Whole fish can be oven-baked, barbecued, or steamed. Pieces of snapper can also be dropped into a seafood soup, stew, or curry. Ensure you add them at the last minute to prevent overcooking. Snapper bones make a fantastic fish stock that is clean and rich. This fish stock can be served on its own as a simple soup, or used to make a classic dishes such as bouillabaisse or bisque.
- Port Philip Bay Fishery, Ocean Fishery (49t in 2018/19, 64t in 2017/18)
Snapper can be found in temperate Australian waters from coastal bays to oceanic waters upto 250m deep. Snapper is a key target of commercial and recreational fisheries around Australia, caught in all states except in Tasmania and Northern Territory waters. Snapper are long lived fish (up to 40 years) and take up to 7 years to reach maturity. The majority of snapper in VIC are caught in Port Phillip Bay, with minor quantities caught in other areas.
The most recent stock assessment has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but available data suggests that stocks remain healthy and a significant breeding event in 2018 is likely to boost the stock and make it more resilient in coming years.
There is a significant recreational catch in Port Philip Bay where the stock forms spawning aggregations. The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have reduced that catch in recent years.
There is no evidence of a decline of endangered species population as a result of the fishery. However, no independently verified bycatch information is available for the fishery and no observer program is in place. Bycatch is likely to be low due to the targeted nature of the fishery and its small scale.
Marine parks provide a small degree of protection for snapper and the western shoreline of Port Philip Bay is a RAMSAR site, which brings additional environmental management.
- Eat Less
- 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.
- 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.
- Say No
QLD, New Zealand
- Snapper is a key target in commercial and recreational fisheries around Australia and New Zealand.
- The snapper stock shared by NSW and QLD fisheries is in an overfished condition
- 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.
- QLD Rocky Reef Fishery (12t in 2021, 12t in 2020)
- 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. Snapper are likely to be ‘growth overfished’, 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. This fishing method has a low impact on endangered wildlife and marine habitats, and generally result in low quantities of other marine species. Independent observation is necessary 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.
- The status of South Australian Pink Snapper is currently under review.
- SA Marine Scalefish Fishery (382t in 2016)
Currently under review.