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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Pink snapper management

​Pink snapper, a demersal (bottom-dwelling) scalefish, is targeted by recreational and commercial fishers. We manage both fishing sectors together to help ensure long-term sustainability of the species.

The Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery takes the most pink snapper commercially in the State – 237 tonnes in 2011. Fishing occurs in the oceanic waters off Shark Bay. We set a total allowable commercial catch (TACC) and allocate individual transferable quotas to each fishing licence. Quota units operate from 1 September to 31 August (a ‘quota-year’).

The West Coast Demersal Scalefish Interim Managed Fishery, which operates south of Shark Bay in the West Coast Bioregion, also takes pink snapper – 182 tonnes in 2011. A catch limit range is set and access is restricted to permit holders. Units allocated to permits provide entitlement in ’hours’ of fishing time. Fishing ‘effort’ (the amount of fishing) and entitlement use are checked through a vessel monitoring system. Other commercial fisheries in the bioregion take a very small amount of pink snapper. The demersal stocks fished are called the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource.

Other commercial fishing management measures include closed seasons, gear controls and size limits for taking pink snapper. 

The South Coast Demersal Line Fishery takes a relatively small amount of pink snapper – 29 tonnes in 2011. A formal catch range has not been developed. However, 2011 catch levels of the inshore demersal suite fall within the range reported since 2000 and are likely to be sustainable. Additional monitoring is proposed and more formal management arrangements may be developed.

We manage pink snapper recreational fishing, including charter fishing, through closed seasons and size, bag and possession limits. We also limit the number of charter boat licences.    

Major pink snapper catches 2010/11* or 2011

​Fishery or resource Commercial catch ​
 Recreational catch
​Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Fishery 237 tonnes ​
40 tonnes
(28 tonnes, estimated, plus 12 tonnes, charter) ​
​West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource 
190 tonnes
32 tonnes
(24 tonnes, estimated, plus 8 tonnes, charter)​
* Catches are reported from the most recent complete season of log book data – 2010/11 for some fisheries.
There are more complex arrangements in Shark Bay’s three inner gulfs, where pink snapper stocks were found to be depleted in the 1990s.

As part of an integrated fisheries management approach, we set a combined annual total allowable catch (TAC) for commercial and recreational pink snapper fishing. There is a separate pink snapper stock in each of the three gulfs, so each gulf has its own TAC, with 75 per cent allocated to recreational fishers.

Special bag and size limits apply.

Inner Shark Bay Scalefish Fishery – pink snapper catches 2011

​Gulf Total allowable catch (TAC)​
 Total catch
​Denham Sound 15 tonnes
8 tonnes
(Recreational, 6 tonnes, estimated; commercial, 2 tonnes)
Eastern Gulf ​ 15 tonnes​
4 tonnes
(Recreational, 4 tonnes, estimated; commercial, zero)
​Freycinet Estuary 5 tonnes ​
1.5 tonnes
 (Recreational, 1.5 tonnes, estimated; commercial, zero)
In the West Coast Bioregion, stock assessments in recent years indicated overfishing of demersal fish. To help stocks recover, in 2009/10 we introduced new fishing restrictions to keep the catch below 50 per cent of the 2005/06 catch in the bioregion.
New restrictions included an annual two-month closed season for recreational fishing for demersal fish and reduced daily bag limits. The number of commercial fishers and the amount of time they could spend fishing was also restricted. Commercial line and demersal gillnet and longline fishing was closed from Lancelin to south of Mandurah. 
We use pink snapper as an indicator species in the Gascoyne Coast, West Coast and South Coast bioregions. This means its stock status, with that of other indicator species, is used to indicate the status of all inshore demersal species in those bioregions.

Monitoring, assessment and research

We monitor catch and ‘effort’ (the amount of fishing) data through commercial vessel log books and charter vessel returns. Up-to-date recreational boat fishing data will be available in 2013 from a Statewide survey.
Pink snapper status 2011 
Breeding stock level ​
Amount of fishing (effort)
​Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Fishery Recovering​
Inner Shark Bay Scalefish Fishery

- Denham Sound
- Eastern Gulf
- Freycinet Estuary


​West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery Recovering​


Research is now focused on monitoring the stock status of indicator species through the following projects:
  • The Western Australian Marine Science Institute (WAMSI) has been investigating relationships between pink snapper stocks from Shark Bay to South Australia.
  • In the West Coast Bioregion, fish frames of indicator species are collected and used to determine age compositions for stocks in each area of the region, from which estimates of fishing mortality are calculated.
  • A WAMSI project has been investigating the age composition of stocks of demersal fish – plus oceanographic influences on the dispersal of eggs and larvae in the West Coast Bioregion.
  •  An acoustic tagging project to investigate ‘site-fidelity’ of pink snapper to Cockburn Sound spawning aggregations began in 2009. Data collected by receivers until 2013 will be used to assess the risks of targeting snapper in that area.
  •  Surveys of pink snapper egg numbers in Cockburn Sound are used to estimate spawning stock levels.





Last modified: 18/11/2015 5:15 PM

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