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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Wednesday 17 May 2023

Know the rules for pink snapper in the Shark Bay region

This month may just be the busiest month of the year for recreational fishing in the Shark Bay region, as holiday-makers head north for warmer weather.

Shark Bay’s inner gulfs are one of the most popular destinations for boat-based fishers in Western Australia and ensuring fishers are sticking to the rules is vital to maintaining the fishing experience.

 Denham boat ramp at Shark Bay
One of the attractions of the Shark Bay inner gulfs pink snapper resource is that it offers recreational fishers the opportunity to catch trophy-size fish in a unique setting. However, there are specific fishing rules in place during this period to help preserve each of the separate breeding stocks of pink snapper in the gulfs to ensure future fishing experiences. 

A pink snapper closure is in place for May, June and July in the Eastern Gulf to provide protection for the breeding aggregations which occur during this period in that area, which is critical for sustaining this stock. In addition, to protect the Freycinet Estuary stock, pink snapper fishing is not allowed in this location between 15 August and 30 September (inclusive). 

It is important to note that these rules are in place because there is limited mixing between the pink snapper stocks in Shark Bay's three inner gulfs and the wider-ranging oceanic population, so being small and reproductively isolated makes all of the inner gulf stocks vulnerable to overfishing. 

Director for Regional Compliance in the Midwest and Gascoyne, Mick Kelly said with the current peak season attracting fishers to the region right now, it’s important for them to note the recreational fishing rules for the inner gulfs are different to the pink snapper rules that apply in all other areas of the Gascoyne.

“Recreational boat-based fishers in Shark Bay’s inner gulfs can land two pink snapper per day per licensed fisher, provided they are at least 50 centimetres long,” Mr Kelly said. “If you catch two pink snapper, you can take three other demersal finfish within the total mixed species bag limit.

“In other areas of the Gascoyne, outside Shark Bay’s inner gulfs, the minimum size limit for pink snapper is 41 centimetres and the bag limit is three, but the mixed species bag limit is five. 
“Fishers need to be aware that the inner gulf rules apply when landing pink snapper at a boat ramp such as Denham, even if the fish were caught outside the inner gulfs. 

“Earlier this month, DPIRD Fisheries Officers inspected a group of people fishing at Shark Bay who had all exceeded their daily limit by more than twice the legal limit. The four people involved are facing prosecution for exceeding their possession limit of fillets and whole fish.”   

The rules for fishers are available in the Recreational fishing guide 2023​. A map of the Shark Bay region and the respective pink snapper closure dates are available on page 60 of the guide.

Last modified: 17/05/2023 12:11 PM

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