Closure of pink snapper fishing begins today

Pink snapper in a swirling aggregation. Photo: supplied
Pink snapper in a swirling aggregation. Photo: supplied

WITH the start of swirling aggregations of pink snapper in the Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds for breeding purposes a fishing closure on these formations has begun today.

With the ban in place until January 31, 2019, protecting these swirling aggregations for four months is crucial for its breeding stock.

How pink snapper use the Sounds, when they come and go and other migratory patterns have been the focus of recent research on spawning activity.

The activity is well understood by recreational fishers, who make the most of the activity ahead of and after October 1 – January 31 and also by fishing close to the closed areas.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Fisheries Management Officer, Shane Walters said the closure is important to provide targeted protection of the largest known pink snapper spawning aggregations on the West Coast.

“This time of year, it is crucial to remove the fishing pressure on the pink snapper spawning aggregations in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds, because these long-lived, slow-growing, fish need this nursery phase to replenish and ideally build the species stock,” he said.

“Pink snapper is one of the key indicator species of the West Coast demersal scalefish resource and we have been working to rebuild those demersal scalefish stocks since 2008.”

Mr Walters said recent research into spawning activity in the Sounds and recreational fishing activity targeting pink snapper aggregations, prior to the spawning closure, may require a review of the closure to ensure the species nursery is adequately protected.

“It is likely to take up to 20 years to recover pink snapper and other West Coast demersal scalefish stocks, so this is a good time to remind fishers that their support for the recovery of West Coast demersal scalefish stocks is appreciated,” he said.

“It’s important fishers understand pink snapper have variable recruitment with only one to two strong years each decade and the majority of the current West Coast pink snapper catch is attributed to a good recruitment year in 2005.

“Studies on demersal scalefish also indicate that capture and release of some species, prior to spawning, can reduce spawning success or even cause fish to skip the stage altogether.”

Fisheries officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will be on patrol in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds during the four-month closure, from today and until January 31, 2019.

Details on the West Coast Bioregion’s closed fishing seasons are available on the department’s website and in the Recreational fishing guide, along with information on fishing rules and limits.