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Rebuilding Gascoyne pink snapper stocks

Recreational and commercial fishers are invited to have their say on a proposal to protect oceanic pink snapper stocks in a key spawning area off the Gascoyne coast.

The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has released a proposal to close an area to pink snapper fishing north of Bernier Island, including Koks Island, during the peak spawning period from 1 June to 31 August. Bernier Island is located approximately 50km off the coast from Carnarvon.

Department Director of Aquatic Resources Management Nathan Harrison said the proposed closure was a key strategy to support the recovery of pink snapper stocks in this region.

“Recent pink snapper stock assessments have raised concerns over the low level of juvenile recruitment and fishing practices that target the main spawning aggregations,” he said

“The department has been working closely with the recreational and commercial fishing sectors on recovery management options following a review of commercial and recreational catches.

“We are looking to develop a recovery management plan that takes account of the full impacts of both sectors on oceanic pink snapper stocks.”

Mr Harrison said similar closures had been effective in protecting pink snapper aggregations in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds in the Perth metropolitan area and inner gulfs of Shark Bay.

“This proposed closure area only represents about 2-4 per cent of the total area fished by commercial and charter operators in the Gascoyne coast bioregion,” he said. “However, up to 70 per cent of the commercial pink snapper catch is taken from these waters during the peak spawning period.”

The industry bodies, Recfishwest and the WA Fishing Industry Council, will undertake consultation with their members to provide feedback on the proposed spawning closure.

Mr Harrison said the closure would be specific to pink snapper only and would prohibit the take, landing and possession of pink snapper within the waters of the closure.

“The department has also been consulting with the commercial sector on a significant reduction to their total allowable commercial catch. The commercial sector has been proactive in discussing the level of catch reductions to assist the pink snapper stock recovery,” he said.

Source: WA DPIRD

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