Snapper stocks to be boosted

BIG SNAPPER: One of the large adult snapper used in breeding program at the South Australian Research and Development Institute's West Beach facility. Photo: PIRSA
BIG SNAPPER: One of the large adult snapper used in breeding program at the South Australian Research and Development Institute's West Beach facility. Photo: PIRSA

South Australian snapper stocks are about to get a significant boost with more than 300,000 fingerlings to be released in the Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent over the coming months.

The restocking program is a $500,000 commitment from state government to help snapper stocks recover from critically low levels in South Australia's gulf waters.

About 150,000 fingerlings will start to be released in Gulf St Vincent over the next week, with an extra 150,000 fingerlings expected to be released into Spencer Gulf in autumn.

Adult stock were collected from both gulfs in 2019 and after successful spawning, fingerlings have been raised at the South Australian Research and Development Institute's (SARDI) West Beach facility.

Primary Industries Minister David Basham said the SARDI scientists cracked the code for successful snapper spawning last October, resulting in healthy fingerlings which are now at the optimal release size of 40-60 millimetres.

"This is an incredibly exciting project that could have major benefits for the South Australian snapper fishery and this release will be one of the largest restocking events for snapper ever undertaken in Australia," Mr Basham said.

"Starting next week, these 150,000 fingerlings will be set free in Gulf St Vincent over several trips, when they will be released into mixed soft substrate and seagrass habitats in northern Gulf St Vincent, where snapper fingerlings are known to settle naturally.

"At SARDI's West Beach facility, the Spencer Gulf breeding stock have recently spawned and we are aiming to release at least 150,000 fingerlings back into Spencer Gulf this Autumn."

Mr Basham said scientific assessments over the past few years showed snapper stocks in gulf waters were at critically low levels, leading to the government closing the fishery until 2023 to help rebuild numbers.

"South Australia is proud of its reputation as a recreational fishing destination and custodian of pristine environments," he said.

"We want to create a sustainable snapper fishery for future generations of recreational fishers and seafood consumers and the snapper restocking program is a key part of that.

"This is one of more than a dozen projects that aim to support the recovery and growth of South Australia's snapper fishery."