State governments move to sustain red snapper industry

New methods used to monitor fishery

A new collaborative project between State governments and Australian government agencies will ensure the northern Australian red snapper industry between the Kimberleys and Cape York remains sustainable and profitable for the future, says the Qld State government.

Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries principal scientist Michael O´Neill said the aim of the red snapper project was to assess the health of the fishery by using new monitoring techniques and reference points.

"We´re developing new methods for monitoring five species of red snapper in the Gulf of Carpentaria, waters off the Northern Territory, and the northern part of Western Australia," said O´Neill.

"In addition, we will conduct a survey with the commercial fishing industry to collect data using trawl vessels to trawl different sites to gain an indication of what the stock levels are at each site.

"The survey will provide a more accurate picture of the status of red snapper stocks, and industry will be engaged throughout the project.

"Industry will be fundamental to the endorsement of the methodology and decision rules that are developed."

About 1500-1800 tonnes of red snapper are caught across northern Australia each year, with a landed value of $6-8 million, the Government said.

O´Neil said that fishery assessments had been compromised in the past due to limited data, the species’ 30-40 year lifespan, and "unquantifiable external catch".

"Improved fishery monitoring and management in the Australian Fishing Zone is needed to ensure the sustainability and commercial profitability of red snapper," O´Neil said.

"The survey will provide more meaningful data for fisheries managers to plan for the future."

The project is funded by the Australian government through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, along with contributions from the Qld, NT and WA governments; the Bureau of Rural Sciences; and CSIRO.

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