A better solution for unavoidable snapper by-catch

5th March 2013

Snapper is an iconic recreational species with around 550 tonnes caught annually by Victorian recreational fishermen. Fisheries in Australia are managed either by the State or the Commonwealth. In waters adjacent to Victoria, non-trawl caught snapper are managed by Victorian but snapper caught by trawlers are managed by the Commonwealth. South East Trawl (SET) vessels have a long history of taking a small amount of snapper as a by-catch. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) imposed what is known as a trip limit above which all snapper must be returned to the sea dead. Snapper do not understand that fishing vessels are licensed either by the State or Commonwealth and are sometimes caught by Commonwealth vessels and dumped dead. A trial promoted by SETFIA in eastern Victoria put strict move-on conditions on SET vessels if they catch snapper but also allows for all unavoidable by-catch to be landed rather than thrown away dead. The trial saw SET catches fall from 100 tonnes to about 50 tonnes per annum currently. The trial was agreed by all stakeholders a a success but AFMA and Victoria are yet to agree a management arrangement and SET vessels continue to be forced to dump snapper. The Association continues to call on AFMA to adopt the move-on arrangement which worked so well and did not waste any snapper.