Image: ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny
Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing Australia’s commercial fishing industry, has called on the South Australian Government to review its four year state wide ban on snapper, effective from 1 November 2019 to 2023, excluding south eastern waters over winter.
“As an industry we support protection of fish stocks – it is critical for sustainability and for our future,” SIA CEO Jane Lovell said.
“We also support sound science to inform decision making. It is the job of our fisheries managers to collect and interpret science and to adjust the allowable catch to ensure sufficient stocks remain, for the environment, for recreational and for commercial fishers.
“As a general principle we need our fisheries managers to find ways to keep us fishing while stocks rebuild, to develop recovery plans and to make sure they are using the best data.
“The decision to shut waters for four years looks like a failure to manage things properly. It will cause great hardship to our fishers and to the communities that support them.
“While we agree with many of the measures the South Australian Government is putting in place – establishing a management advisory committee, looking to better understand the behaviour of juveniles, collecting better information on the total catch including recreational – these are measures that could have been put in place before now.
“There are also questions being asked about the validity of the data that has led to this response by the Minister. Our understanding is that there are only a couple of data points and that the last survey was late and cut short because of poor weather.
“Given the impact on many of our commercial fishers, who rely on catching snapper, it seems severe to shut the fishery for four years with no review. What if the latest egg count was wrong? Are we sending fishers to the wall based on suspect data?
“We are calling for there to be review stages in this ban – not a set and forget solution.
“The State Government is planning a national snapper workshop in November to bring together fisheries management, science, recreational and commercial industry experts from around Australia and New Zealand to discuss the most effective ways to conduct scientific stock assessment and management of snapper stocks.
“We ask the Government to take the new science being commissioned and the November workshop as an opportunity to review the ban.
“It is our duty to protect the species and the generations of dedicated fishing businesses. South Australia’s snapper fishers are passionate about snapper fishing, which is why it’s not a surprise that over 900 submissions were made in the consultation process leading up to this ban.
“As fishers, our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean. It’s our livelihood and the future livelihood of generations to come.”