SA extends snapper closed season

THE South Australian Government has ended speculation around the state’s snapper fishing laws by extending the annual commercial snapper fishing closure from November 1 to 30 out to December 15.

From next year the extension will also apply to recreational and charter fishing, while reduced bag and boat limits will apply for anglers and charter operators during the extended two week commercial closure.

From December 15 this year commercial fishers will also be restricted to a daily catch limit of 500kg, down from 800kg, and will only be allowed to use 200 hooks on long lines, down from 400.

The changes follow a 2011 review by Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA) responding to concerns about the long-term sustainability of snapper stocks and large volumes of the fish caught by longliners in upper St Vincent Gulf.

The Adelaide Advertiser reports the Marine Fishers Association has warned that allowing anglers on to the water before commercials will disturb schools of snapper and make it harder for the industry to catch large volumes for sale once the commercial season opens.

This could reduce supply and double or triple the wholesale price, MFA chairman Mike Fooks said. “It could be anything up to $15 a kilo for whole fish,” he said.

RecFish SA chairman Brenton Schahinger has supported the extension but said many anglers would be relieved they had been given a reprieve this year.

“A lot of people had already made (holiday) plans and booked accommodation to go snapper fishing,” Mr Schahinger said.

“Next year people will be able to plan around that.”

PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture executive director Professor Mehdi Doroudi said the changes to the ban would “minimise disturbance to the spawning” fish and “secure future snapper stocks for the benefit of all fishing sectors”.

Editor/Publisher of SA Angler magazine Shane Mensforth, told Fisho he is glad anglers haven’t been stopped from fishing in December and approves of the scrapping of the proposed January closure.

“Not that happy about reduced bag limits during the first half of December, but I guess it’s better than no fishing at all. Very encouraging to read that the pros’ daily catch will be cut back to 500kg and longline hooks reduced from 400 to 200,” he told Fisho.

Fisho’s SA correspondent Jamie Crawford echoed Mensforth’s views.

“It’s a great management decision made by the State Government and PIRSA to further regulate the commercial pressure placed on snapper stocks once the closed season re-opens on the 30th Nov.

“Recreational and charter fishers are relieved and happy with the outcome, which provides recreational-only access to the fishery for the initial 15 days of the new season. Rec snapper fishing is a major economic benefit to many of the coastal towns surrounding Gulf St. Vincent and Spencer Gulf here in SA.

“I think the reduced recreational daily bag limit (for the initial 15 days) is a great idea too, and I encourage rec fisho’s to do the right thing and end the session when their bag limit is achieved. These larger fish do not release well from the deep water drops, and we have to be seen as custodians of the fishery as we are fortunate to have this window of sole access. The majority of the recreational sector encourages an extended closed season for all sectors across the board, which is what we are expecting to see from next year onwards.”

The new rules

  • Ban on snapper fishing from November 1 to December 15 for commercial fishers in 2012.
  • Extended ban to apply to all sectors – commercial, recreational and charter – from 2013.
  • New limits of up to five fish per person and up to 15 fish per boat.
  • From December 15, commercial daily catch limit of 500kg and limit of 200 hooks on long lines.

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