Extend ban to aid snapper
PRESSURE is mounting for a longer snapper closure to protect the popular species from overfishing during their spawning season.
However, recreational fishers and Yorke Peninsula Mayor Darren Braund have warned a catch ban over summer could have a detrimental effect on coastal tourism.
Fishers are currently banned from catching the popular species from November 1 to December 15 to give the fish a chance to complete their summer breeding, but Marine Fishers Association executive officer Nathan Bicknell said that in many years spawning was still occurring after the closure lifted.
“You end up with a situation where the season opens in the middle of the spawning period,” he said.
“The fish are still all schooled up and everyone runs out and belts the crap out of them.”
Mr Bicknell said the scientific advice the MFA had received showed spawning generally continued until the end of January, depending on water temperatures and weather conditions.
“We’d like to see the closure extended until the end of January,” he said.
Only areas of high spawning activity are currently subject to closure until the end of January every year.
Mr Bicknell said snapper numbers had been declining since 2000, particularly in Spencer Gulf which had experienced poor species recruitment in recent years.
“There’s been little incoming and lots outgoing,” he said. Mr Bicknell said an extended closure could result in a catch reduction of between 24 and 32 per cent for professional fishers, but that the long-term gain would outweigh the short-term pain.
RecFish SA executive officer Danny Simpson said a restructuring of SA’s marine scale fishery would make more sense than an extended snapper closure. “The marine scale fishery is unsustainable in its current form,” he said. “We would suggest that they get on with the planned restructure. Extending the closure over Christmas and New Year would have a significant impact on the coastal communities that rely on people going there to fish in the holiday period.” Mr Braund said protecting snapper stocks should be a priority, and that the fish was a very important driver of tourism in the area.
“I would hope that the council would be consulted and that we would be allowed to have our say before any changes were made,” he said.
Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said in a statement that he had been listening to the concerns of both professional and recreational fishers, but stopped short of recommending a closure extension.
“South Australians their snapper,” he said.
“They love to be able to buy it off a menu at a restaurant, and recreational fishers enjoy chasing them. love
“Snapper is an iconic species and management changes will be needed in SA to ensure the sustainability of the stock in the future.”
Mr Whetstone said SARDI was currently finalising numbers from the latest snapper stock assessment.
“This report is expected to indicate further concerns about snapper stocks in Spencer Gulf,” he said.
“My view is that potentially tough decisions will need to be made to secure the sustainability of the fishery into the future.
“These tough decisions will necessarily impact both recreational fishers and the commercial sector.”