Managing Depleted Snapper Stocks in Inner Shark Bay, Western Australia

Managing Depleted Snapper Stocks in Inner Shark Bay, Western Australia

Peter Stephenson and Gary Jackson

Managing Depleted Snapper Stocks in Inner Shark Bay, Western AustraliaThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Description

Snapper (Pagrus auratus) have been a major attraction for recreational boat fishers visiting the inner gulfs of Shark Bay, Western Australia, since the 1970s. In the mid-1990s, despite some long-held concerns over the high exploitation of spawning aggregations, data limitations hampered management efforts to take action to protect snapper stocks. In 1997, a fishery closure in the eastern gulf was overturned through public objection, lack of data being the underlying reason. From 1998 to 2002, fishery independent estimates of mature biomass, recreational catches, and age composition data were collected. Despite the biomass estimates being highly variable, and the age data being scant, models yielded results consistent with the available data for the three stocks of snapper in the inner gulfs of Shark Bay. Likely trajectories of mature biomass were explored for a range of future catch levels and these were compared to a biological reference point, 40% of the virgin mature biomass. In 2003, based on these assessments, a TAC (total allowable catch) was set for each snapper stock, a significant innovation in the management of marine recreational fisheries in Australia.

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