Catch-re­lease peril

Joondalup Weekender - - Front Page - Jon Bas­sett

RE­SEARCHERS warn that catch­ing and re­leas­ing pink snap­per for sport, af­ter bag­ging the two-fish limit, risks un­nec­es­sary deaths and threat­ens breed­ing.

The warn­ing was made be­fore off­shore stocks of the fish head to Cock­burn and Warnbo sounds, which close for pink snap­per fish­ing at mid­night on Septem­ber 30.

“There is ev­i­dence in some de­m­er­sal scale­fish species that cap­ture prior to spawn­ing can cause that fish to skip spawn­ing or re­duce the spawn­ing suc­cess of that fish,” Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment fish­eries man­age­ment of­fi­cer Shane Wal­ters said.

Mr Wal­ters said the por­tion of pink snap­per that die af­ter re­lease can have a “sig­nif­i­cant im­pact” on stock if there was a high num­ber put back into the water. Since the 2005 ex­pan­sion of the closed sea­son, a grow­ing num­ber of boat, shore and kayak fish­ers tar­get early arrivals of the fish be­fore their spring and sum­mer spawn­ing.

While each fisher is limited to keep­ing two snap­per, which can grow to 1m, the bounty causes many to con­tinue catch­ing the an­i­mals for the thrill.

Mr Wal­ters said fish­ers should know some re­leased pink snap­per die be­cause of be­ing brought up from depths, han­dling, hooks and in­juries, and sharks eat­ing the weak­ened fish.

Re­search in­di­cates snap­per born in 2005 are now about 6kg and 80cm, but the num­ber of ju­ve­niles varies greatly dur­ing each breed­ing sea­son across the sounds, with only one or two strong years each decade.

Spawn­ing usu­ally peaks near new moons between Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber, and when water tem­per­a­tures reach 19C to 21C.

Mr Wal­ters said it was ex­pected many of the fish be­ing caught this year were born in 2007’s good breed­ing sea­son, but it was im­por­tant the fishery con­tin­ued to be man­aged so all ages con­trib­uted to the pop­u­la­tion’s re­cov­ery.

Do­nated fish frames, are still needed by re­searchers for in­for­ma­tion on the ages of the fish across the pop­u­la­tion.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son d486141

Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment se­nior tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Brett Crisa­fulli, fish­eries man­age­ment of­fi­cer Shane Wal­ters and Fish­eries and Ma­rine of­fi­cer Shan­non Cash... re­searchers want skele­tal frames of pink snap­per so its pop­u­la­tion is well man­aged.

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