Crimson Snapper (2018)

Lutjanus erythropterus

  • Thor Saunders (Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory)
  • Chad Lunow (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Corey Wakefield (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Fabian Trinnie (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Stephen Newman (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

Toggle content


Australia’s stocks of the tropical demersal Crimson Snapper are sustainable in WA, the NT and northern QLD. Stocks in eastern QLD are undefined with limited information available.

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Northern Territory Northern Australia CLF, DF, TRF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, egg production, fishing mortality
Coastal Line Fishery (NT)
Demersal Fishery (NT)
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus) is a widespread Indo-Pacific species found throughout tropical Australian waters. Research on the biological stock structure of this species in Australian waters has only occurred in northern Australia; including the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria [Salini et al. 2006]. A single genetic stock was found across this region. In addition to this Northern Australia biological stock, it is considered that the species has a similar biological stock structure to Saddletail Snapper (Lutjanus malabaricus), with a Western Australia (North Coast Bioregion) biological stock and a biological stock off the east coast of Queensland [Salini et al. 2006].

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

Toggle content

Stock Status

Northern Australia

This cross-jurisdictional biological stock has components in the Northern Territory and Queensland. Each jurisdiction assesses the part of the biological stock that occurs in its waters. The status presented here for the entire biological stock has been established using evidence from both jurisdictions.

The Northern Territory manages the commercial harvest of Crimson Snapper and Saddletail Snapper together as ‘red snapper’. Crimson Snapper has made up around 22 per cent of the red snapper catch for the past 15 years [DPIR 2018]. Analysis of Crimson Snapper using data up to 2016 in a stochastic stock reduction analysis model estimated egg production to be around 70 per cent of that prior to the start of the fishery [Martin 2018]; well above conventional fishery targets. This component of the stock is unlikely to be depleted.

Results of this stock assessment additionally indicated that the current harvest rate has a very low (< 8 per cent) probability of causing the stock to become recruitment impaired [Martin 2018]. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause this part of the Crimson Snapper stock to become recruitment impaired.

Harvest of the Queensland component of this stock is estimated to have been below maximum sustainable yield (MSY) (~170 t) [Leigh and O’Neill 2016] since 2012 due to reduced fishing, with no fishing occurring since the 2016–17 financial year. This contrasts with harvests of 150–350 t per year during the period 2004–11. The total allowable commercial catch (TACC) for target species for the Queensland component of the GOCDFFTF was reduced from 1 250 t to 450 t in 2014 and changed to a species-specific non-transferable quota entitlement with a TACC of 169 t in 1 July 2016, as part of new permit arrangements. Less than 1 t of Crimson Snapper has been landed by the GOCLF since 2011. There is no reliable estimate of recreational or Indigenous harvest of Crimson Snapper in the Gulf of Carpentaria, but it is likely to be minor given the offshore nature of the fishery. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this part of the Crimson Snapper stock is unlikely to be depleted and recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

The above combined evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the Northern Australia stock of Crimson Snapper to become recruitment impaired.

Based on the evidence provided above, the Northern Australia biological stock is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content


Crimson Snapper biology [DAF unpublished data, Fry and Milton 2009, Fry et al. 2009, McPherson et al. 1992, McPherson and Squire 1992, Newman et al. 2000]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Crimson Snapper Northern Australia: 42 years, 470 mm SL East Coast Queensland: 32 years, 790 mm FL Northern Australia: Males 270 mm SL, Females 350 mm SL East Coast Queensland: Females 485 mm (+/- 1.7) FL
Toggle content


Distribution of reported commercial catch of Crimson Snapper

Toggle content


Fishing methods
Northern Territory
Hook and Line
Otter Trawl
Midwater Trawl
Fish Trap
Management methods
Method Northern Territory
Gear restrictions
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Total allowable catch
Possession limit
Spatial closures
Northern Territory
Commercial 72.00kg in CLF, 505.13t in DF, 151.82t in TRF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 55 t (in 2010)
Coastal Line Fishery (NT)
Demersal Fishery (NT)
Timor Reef Fishery (NT)

Western AustraliaActive Vessels Data is confidential as there were fewer than three vessels in the Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery (Western Australia) and Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery (Western Australia).

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch) Boat-based recreational catch is from 1 September 2015–31 August 2016. These data are derived from those reported in [Ryan et al. 2017].

Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) A Recreational Fishing from Boat License is required for the use of a powered boat to fish or to transport catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location.

Western Australia – Indigenous (management methods) 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.

Northern Territory and Queensland – Recreational (catch) Saddletail Snapper and Crimson Snapper catch were combined during the Northern Territory 2010 recreational fishing survey [West et al. 2012] and the Queensland 2013–14 recreational fishing survey [Webley et al. 2015].

Northern Territory – Charter (management methods) In the Northern Territory, charter operators are regulated through the same management methods as the recreational sector but are subject to additional limits on license and passenger numbers.

Northern Territory – Indigenous (management methods) The Fisheries Act 1988 (NT), specifies that “…without derogating from any other law in force in the Territory, nothing in a provision of this Act or an instrument of a judicial or administrative character made under it limits the right of Aboriginals who have traditionally used the resources of an area of land or water in a traditional manner from continuing to use those resources in that area in that manner”.

Queensland The reporting period for the commercial Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery (Queensland) is the 2016–17 financial year.

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) 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.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Crimson Snapper - note confidential catch not shown

Toggle content


  1. DPIRD 2017, North Coast demersal scalefish resource harvest strategy 2017–2021. Version 1.0. Fisheries Management Paper No. 285. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 35p.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Martin, JM 2017, Stock assessment of Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus) in the Northern Territory Demersal and Timor Reef Fisheries, unpublished report, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Darwin.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Newman, SJ, Brown, JI, Fairclough, DV, Wise, BS, Bellchambers, LM, Molony, BW, Lenanton, RCJ, Jackson, G, Smith, KA, Gaughan, DJ, Fletcher, WJ, McAuley, RB and Wakefield, CB 2018, A risk assessment and prioritisation approach to the selection of indicator species for the assessment of multi-species, multi-gear, multi-sector fishery resources. Marine Policy, 88: 11–22.
  9. Newman, SJ, Cappo, M, Williams, DM 2000, Age, growth, mortality rates and corresponding yield estimates using otoliths of the tropical red snappers, Lutjanus erythropterus, L. malabaricus and L. sebae, from the central Great Barrier Reef. Fisheries Research 48:1–14.
  10. Newman, SJ, Wakefield, C, Skepper, C, Boddington, D, Jones, R and Smith, E 2018, North Coast Demersal Resource Status Report 2017. pp. 127–133. In: Gaughan, D.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.). Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2016/17: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 237p.
  11. Northern Territory Government (NTG) 2018, Status of Key Northern Territory Fish Stocks Report 2016. Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries. Fishery Report No. 119.
  12. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  13. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Taylor, SM, Wise, BS 2017, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2015/16. Fisheries research Report No. 287. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth. 
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. West, LD, Lyle, JM, Matthews, SR, Stark, KE and Steffe, AS 2012, Survey of Recreational Fishing in the Northern Territory, 2009–10. Northern Territory Government, Australia. Fishery Report No. 109.

Downloadable reports

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