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Saddletail Snapper

Lutjanus malabaricus

  • Julie Martin (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Corey Wakefield (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)
  • Malcolm Keag (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Stephen Newman (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia North Coast Bioregion GDSMF, NDSMF, PLF, PTMF, PFTIMF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, Indicator species status
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PLF
Pilbara Line Fishery (WA)
PTMF, PFTIMF
Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery, Pilbara Fish Trawl (Interim) Managed Fishery (WA)
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Stock Structure

Saddletail Snapper is a widespread Indo-Pacific species found from Shark Bay in Western Australia, across northern Australia to the east coast of Queensland1. Genetic studies indicate that the species is comprised of three biological stocks: the North Coast Bioregion biological stock, the Northern Australian biological stock (including the Timor Sea, Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria) and the East coast of Queensland biological stock2,3.

Here, assessments of stock status is presented at the biological stock level—North Coast Bioregion (Western Australia), Northern Australia (Northern Territory and Queensland) and East coast Queensland.

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Stock Status

North Coast Bioregion

Saddletail Snapper is exploited primarily on the north-west coast of Western Australia as a component of the Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (PTMF), Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery (PFTIMF), Pilbara Line Fishery (PLF) and the Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (NDSMF) (in the Kimberley region of Western Australia)4. Saddletail Snapper is assessed on the basis of the status of several indicator species (for example, Red Emperor—Lutjanus sebae, and Goldband Snapper—Pristipomoides multidens in the Kimberley region) that represent the inshore demersal suite of species occurring at depths of 30–250 m. The major performance measures for these indicator species are estimates of spawning stock levels. The target level of spawning biomass is 40 per cent of the unfished level. The limit level is 30 per cent of the estimate of initial spawning biomass. Indicator species assessments using an integrated age-structured model determined that the spawning biomass levels of each of the indicator species were greater than 40 per cent of the unfished level in the PTMF, PFTIMF and PLF in 20075. The spawning biomass levels of the indicator species were either greater than the target level or between the target level and the threshold level in the NDSMF in 20145. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

 

The catch of Saddletail Snapper in the NDSMF has been stable for the past 5 years (2010–14), ranging from 87–126 tonnes (t)5. Similarly, the catch of Saddletail Snapper in the Pilbara demersal fisheries has been low and stable, ranging from 64–73 t over the past 3 years5. The catch per unit effort for the PFTIMF and the NDSMF has been stable over the past 5 years. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the North Coast Bioregion (Western Australia) biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Saddletail Snapper Northern Australia: 33 years; 680 mm SL East coast north Queensland; 830 mm FL Northern Australia: 9 years; Males 270–280 mm SL, Females 350–370 mm SL East coast north Queensland: Females 566–586 mm FL

Saddletail Snapper biology10–13

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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Saddletail Snapper

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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Various
Recreational
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Total allowable catch
Total allowable effort
Vessel restrictions
Indigenous
Laws of general application
Recreational
Bag limits
Licence
Limited entry
Passenger restrictions
Possession limit
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Active vessels
Western Australia
16 in GDSMF, 8 in NDSMF, 6 in PLF
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PLF
Pilbara Line Fishery (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 578.20kg in GDSMF, 99.47t in NDSMF, 4.99t in PLF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 2.98 t, 2.12 t
GDSMF
Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
NDSMF
Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (WA)
PLF
Pilbara Line Fishery (WA)

Queenslanda Indigenousc,d

a For Queensland, the reporting period for the Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery (Queensland) and Deep Water Fin Fish Fishery (Queensland) is financial year (2014–15).

b Queensland – Commercial (fishing methods) In Queensland, Saddletail Snapper is trawled in only one of the Queensland fisheries in which it is caught commercially - the Gulf of Carpentaria Developmental Fin Fish Trawl Fishery

c Under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are entitled to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.

d Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

e Western Australia – Commercial (catch) For Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery (Western Australia) and Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (Western Australia), catch is unavailable as there were fewer than three vessels in the fishery.

f Western Australia – Recreational (catch) Boat-based recreational catch from 1 May 2013–30 April 2014.

g Northern Territory – Recreational (catch) Saddletail Snapper and Crimson Snapper catch were combined during the Northern Territory 2010 recreational fishing survey14 and the Queensland 2013–14 recreational fishing survey8.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Saddletail Snapper

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • The impacts on the benthic habitat of fishing activity for Saddletail Snapper are limited to those of the trawl fisheries, which is restricted to around seven per cent of the north-west shelf of Western Australia4 and parts of the Northern Territory and Queensland.
  • There are few bycatch issues associated with trap and line-based fishing. Bycatch of dolphins and turtles can occur in the fish trawls, but this has decreased significantly since the introduction of turtle excluder devices introduced in Western Australia in 2005 and the Northern Territory in 2006. Given the area of distribution and estimated population size of these protected species, the impact of the fish trawl fishery on the stocks of these protected species is likely to be minimal15,16. Gear and fishing modification continue to reduce this level of interaction4,16,17.
  • The Northern Territory fisheries that target Saddletail Snapper have received full Export Exemption accreditation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Western Australian and Queensland east coast fisheries that target Saddletail Snapper have received Approved Wildlife Trade Operation Exemptions accreditation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (except for the Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery [Western Australia], which does not export fish). These assessments, subject to adherence to any accompanying conditions and recommendations, demonstrate that these fisheries are managed in a manner that does not lead to overfishing, and that fishing operations have a minimal impact on the structure, productivity, function and biological diversity of the ecosystem.
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Environmental effects on Saddletail Snapper

  • Climate change and variability have the potential to impact fish stocks in a range of ways, including influencing their geographic distribution (for example, latitudinal shifts in distribution). However, it is unclear how climate change may affect risks to the sustainability of this species. Slow growing and long lived species such as Saddletail Snapper are less likely to be affected by short duration environmental changes (of one or a few years), with adult stocks comprising fish recruited over many years.
  • Changes in ocean chemistry such as ocean acidification have the potential to impact on the replenishment rates of fish populations by affecting larval survival18, and also individual growth rates and spawning output19.
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References

  1. 1 Newman, SJ 2002, Growth rate, age determination, natural mortality and production potential of the scarlet sea perch, Lutjanus malabaricus Schneider 1801, off the Pilbara coast of north-western Australia, Fisheries Research, 58: 215–225.
  2. 2 Elliot, NG 1996, Allozyme and mitochondrial DNA analysis of the tropical saddle-tail sea perch, Lutjanus malabaricus (Schneider), from Australian Waters, Marine and Freshwater Research, 47: 869–876.
  3. 3 Salini, J, Ovenden, J, Street, R, Pendrey, R, Haryantis and Ngurah 2006, Genetic population structure of red snappers (Lutjanus malabaricus Bloch and Schneider, 1801 and Lutjanus erythropterus Bloch, 1790) in central and eastern Indonesia and northern Australia, Journal of Fish Biology, 68(suppl. B): 217–234.
  4. 4 Fletcher, WJ and Santoro, K (eds.) 2015, Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2014/15: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 353p.
  5. 5 Newman, SJ, Wakefield, C, Skepper, C, Boddington, D, Blay, N, Jones, R and Dobson, P 2015, North Coast Demersal Fisheries Status Report. pp. 189-206. In: Fletcher, W.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.) 2015. Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2014/15: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 353p.
  6. 6 Martin, JM 2013, Stock assessment of Saddletail Snapper (Lutjanus malabaricus) in the Northern Territory Demersal and Timor Reef Fisheries, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Darwin, unpublished report.
  7. 7 Leigh, GM and O'Neill, MF 2016, Gulf of Carpentaria Finfish Trawl Fishery: Maximum Sustainable Yield, Agi-Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
  8. 8 Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013-14, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  9. 9 Taylor, S, Webley, J and McInnes, K 2012, 2010 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
  10. 10 Fry, G and Milton, DA 2009, Age, growth and mortality estimates for populations of red snappers Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus from northern Australia and eastern Indonesia, Fisheries Science, 75: 1219–1229.
  11. 11 Fry, G, Milton, DA, Van Der Velde, T, Stobutzki, I, Andamari, R, Badrudin and Sumiono, B 2009, Reproductive dynamics and nursery habitat preferences of two commercially important Indo–Pacific red snappers Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus, Fisheries Science, 75: 145–158.
  12. 12 McPherson, GR and Squire, L 1992, Age and growth of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef Inter-Reef Fishery, Asian Fisheries Science, 5, 25–36.
  13. 13 McPherson, GR, Squire, L and O'Brien, J 1992, Reproduction of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef Inter-Reef Fishery, Asian Fisheries Science, 5, 15-24.
  14. 14 West, LD, Lyle, J M, Matthews, S R, Stark, KE and Steffe, A S 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the Northern Territory, 2009-10. Northern Territory Government, Australia. Fishery Report No. 109.
  15. 15 Wakefield, CS, Santana-Garcon, J, Dorman, SR, Blight, S, Denham, A, Wakeford, J, Molony, BW and Newman, SJ 2016, Performance of bycatch reduction devices varies for chondrichthyan, reptile, and cetacean mitigation in demersal fish trawls: assimilating subsurface interactions and unaccounted mortality, ICES Journal of Marine Science in press
  16. 16 Molony, BW, Wakefield, CB, Newman, SJ, O’Donoghue, S, Joll, L and Syers, C 2015, The need for a broad perspective concerning fisheries interactions and bycatch of marine mammals, pp.65-78, In: Kruse, GH, An, HC, DiCosimo, J, Eischens, CA, Gislason, GS, McBride, DN, Rose, CS and Siddon, CE (eds.). Fisheries Bycatch: Global Issues and Creative Solutions. Alaska Sea Grant, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
  17. 17 Northern Territory Government 2016, Status of Key Northern Territory Fish Stocks Report 2014. Northern Territory Government. Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries. Fishery Report No. 115.
  18. 18 Hughes, T 2010, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility milestone report for program 2.5i.3, Fishery Report 111 , Department of Resources report to the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.
  19. 19 Johnson, JE and Welch, DJ 2010, Marine fisheries management in a changing climate: a review of vulnerability and future options, Reviews in Fisheries Science, 18(1): 106–124.

Archived reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.