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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
​A Gascoyne pink snapper taken for sampling as part of our scientific monitoring program of the stock
Wednesday 15 May 2019

Pink snapper project gets green light

​A team of DPIRD fisheries scientists has secured Commonwealth funding to investigate why commercial catches of pink snapper in the Gascoyne and West Coast bioregions have recently declined.

Pink snapper is targeted by commercial and recreational fisheries from Shark Bay to Esperance with about 600 tonnes landed annually.

Pink snapper was one of several demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion identified as being overfished in a 2007 assessment. The assessment prompted management changes aimed at recovering stocks by reducing commercial and recreational fishing mortality (retained catch plus post-release mortality) of West Coast demersal scalefish by at least 50% of 2005/06 levels.

The commercial fishery off Shark Bay has seen declining catches, since 2014/15 with catch rates below the target level and only about 50-60% of the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC).

Lower catch rates can indicate that the fishery is underperforming, despite substantial management intervention over more than 15 years.

With commercial fishers in both West Coast and Gascoyne bioregions expressing concerns about the slower-than-expected recovery of pink snapper stocks, fisheries researchers have secured Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) funding to investigate.

The two-year project will see DPIRD staff working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, Flinders University and CSIRO (Hobart).

FRDC funding will be used to gather information on the relationships between stocks in the Gascoyne and West Coast using genetics, otolith chemistry, and egg/larval dispersal modelling to identify where juvenile pink snapper come from and how this may vary with environment and oceanographic conditions.

This information will help determine whether we assess pink snapper in different locations separately (e.g. Shark Bay, Kalbarri, Mid West Coast, Metro) or combine all areas into one.

Crucially, it will also help us develop future management options in consultation with all fishing sectors.

Last modified: 15/05/2019 5:12 PM

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