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New closures to protect spawning snapper

04 Jul 2013

Five key snapper spawning areas will be closed during the annual breeding season, following extensive consultation with the community and fishing industry.

The closures include four key areas within northern Spencer Gulf and a single area in Gulf St Vincent, where significant spawning aggregations of Snapper are known to occur.

All fishing sectors will be prohibited from possessing, targeting and taking snapper within the four kilometre radius of each closure area from 15 December 2013 to 31 January 2014.

Executive Director of PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, Professor Mehdi Doroudi said PIRSA had been mindful of the potential economic, social and tourism impacts of the closures, which were necessary to support a sustainable snapper fishery, and had reduced the size of the closures after consulting widely.

“Snapper is a South Australian species prized by all fishing sectors that brings economic, social and tourism benefits to a number of coastal fishing communities,” he said.

“After consideration was given to the importance of snapper to all fishing sectors and coastal communities, we have ensured there is a right balance between our main priority of protecting snapper spawning areas, and that of minimising potential economic and social impacts, by reducing the closure areas in size by more than half.

Professor Doroudi said the behaviour of Snapper during their annual breeding period makes them more vulnerable to capture and disturbance caused by fishing activity, and that ongoing work had already led to a number of measures put in place.

“These changes include a reduction in daily catch limits for the commercial sector and an extension to the annual state wide Snapper fishing closure for commercial, recreational and charter fishers, which now runs from 1 November until 15 December each year.

Mike Fooks, Chairman of the Marine Fishers Association which represents more than 330 commercial fishers, has welcomed the announcement.

“We are definitely supportive of the spatial closures and see them as an important part of Snapper management and vital for the long-term sustainability of the fishery,” Mr Fooks said.

PIRSA consulted widely on the development of the spatial closures, with other major stakeholders including RecFish SA, the Surveyed Charter Boat Owners & Operators Association and local government involved throughout the process.

The spatial closures will be reviewed before the annual closure begins in November 2014.

A map and more information is available at www.pir.sa.gov.au/fisheries

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