Snapper survey results

VICTORIAN Fisheries Authority (VFA) scientists have been working through the night during their recent annual trawl surveys for baby snapper in Port Phillip. Now the results are out!

Following last year’s record snapper spawning success, this year scientists have recorded low numbers of baby snapper. This natural variation in spawning success, often referred to as ‘recruitment’, is typical of wild fish stocks, particularly snapper.

The exceptional recruitment in 2018 will be fundamental to the performance of the key snapper fisheries in Port Phillip and Western Port over the next 10-15 years.

The average snapper recruitments in 2008, 2009 and 2010, then 2013 and 2014, have contributed to the quality snapper fishing we’ve enjoyed for the last 5 or so years. Previous highest recruitments in 2001 and 2004, 2005 drove the fantastic fishing from 2008 to 2013. These fish have now mostly passed through the fishery, but if you catch an 8 kg plus fish it was probably born in one of these early years.

Anecdotal evidence from recreational anglers supports the notion of record snapper recruitment in 2018, with truckloads of small pinkies in Port Phillip and Western Port. It’s a great sign for the future. Anglers are urged to take care of them when handling and releasing thyem to ensure high survival rates.

The VFA will shortly begin consultation on new recreational fishing reefs in Port Phillip, which will also benefit snapper. 

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