Brownstripe Snapper (2020)

Lutjanus vitta

  • Lisa Walton (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Fabian Trinnie (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Thor Saunders (Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, Northern Territory)
  • Stephen Newman (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

Date Published: June 2021

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

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Brownstripe Snapper is widely distributed throughout northern Australia. The WA and NT jurisdictional stocks are classified as sustainable, as is the  Gulf of Carpentaria management unit (shared between QLD and the NT). The QLD East Coast management unit is undefined with limited information available.

Image courtesy of Queensland Government

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Western Australia Sustainable

Catch, indicator species status

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Stock Structure

Brownstripe Snapper are widely distributed throughout the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean region, ranging from New Caledonia and the Gilbert Islands to southern India, extending northwards to southern Japan and are also found in the Seychelles (Anderson and Allen 2001). In Australian waters, Brownstripe Snapper occur from the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia, around the northern coast to Moreton Bay in southern Queensland.

There is little information on biological stock structure and population connectivity for this species in Australian waters. Brownstripe Snapper are broadly distributed across the continental shelf at depths ranging from 20 to 120 m, with a dispersal capacity via a pelagic egg and larval phase that may contribute to widespread gene flow. However, geographic separation of some populations and the likelihood of limited adult movement suggests separate management units are appropriate.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia and Northern Territory—and the management unit level—Gulf of Carpentaria (Northern Territory and Queensland) and East Coast Queensland.

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Stock Status

Western Australia

Brownstripe Snapper is caught primarily on the north west coast of Western Australia as a component of the multispecies Pilbara Demersal Scalefish Fisheries (which include the Pilbara Fish Trawl (Interim) Managed Fishery, the Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery and the Pilbara Line Fishery) in the Pilbara management region of the North Coast Bioregion; and also as a component of the Northern Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (NDSMF) in the Kimberley management region of the North Coast Bioregion of Western Australia [Newman et al. 2020].

Brownstripe Snapper is assessed on the basis of the status of several indicator species (including, for example, Red Emperor and Goldband Snapper in the Kimberley region) that represent the entire inshore demersal suite of species occurring at depths of 30–250 m [Newman et al. 2018]. The major performance measures for these indicator species are estimates of spawning stock levels estimated using an integrated age-structured assessment. The target level of spawning biomass is 40 per cent of the unfished level, with a threshold reference level of 30 per cent and a limit reference level of 20 per cent of the estimate of initial spawning biomass [DPIRD 2017]. Indicator species assessments determined that the spawning biomass levels of each of the indicator species were greater than 40 per cent of the unfished level in the Pilbara Demersal Scalefish Fisheries in 2015 (the year the last integrated assessment was undertaken). The spawning biomass levels of the indicator species were at the threshold level in the NDSMF in 2017 [Newman et al. 2020]. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

The catch of Brownstripe Snapper in the Pilbara Demersal Scalefish Fisheries over the past 10 years (2010–19) have ranged from 80–208 tonnes (t), with a mean annual catch of 128 t. The catch of Brownstripe Snapper in the NDSMF has been low and stable for the past 10 years (2010–19), ranging from 3–18 t, with a mean annual catch of 11 t. A small amount of Brownstripe Snapper is caught in the Gascoyne region of WA with catches <1 tonne per year. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Brownstripe Snapper in Western Australia is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Brownstripe Snapper biology [Newman et al. 2000; Palla and Sotto 2021]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Brownstripe Snapper

12 years, 257 mm FL [Newman et al. 2000]

Females, ~1.8 years, 213 mm TL; Males, ~2.2 years and 228 mm TL [Palla and Sotto 2021]  

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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Brownstripe Snapper

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Fishing methods
Western Australia
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Otter Trawl
Fish Trap
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Otter Trawl
Rod and reel
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Bag limits
Limited entry
Passenger restrictions
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Spatial zoning
Total allowable effort
Vessel restrictions
Licence (Recreational Fishing from Boat License)
Possession limit
Spatial closures
Western Australia
Commercial 162.90t
Charter < 0.5 t
Recreational Unknown

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing

Western Australia Active Vessels data is unreportable as there were fewer than three vessels operating in Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery and Pilbara Trap Managed Fishery.

Western Australia – Recreational (Catch) Boat-based recreational catch is from 1 September 2017–31 August 2018. These data are derived from those reported in Ryan et al. [2019]. Shore based catches of Mangrove Jack are not known.

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 application of 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.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch Brownstripe Snapper - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Anderson, W.D. and Allen, G.R. 2001. Lutjanidae. FAO species identification guide for fisheries purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific, Vol. 5, Part 3 (ed. by K.E. Carpenter and V.H. Niem), pp. 2840–2918. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  2. Davis, T.L.O. and West, G.J. 1993. Maturation, reproductive seasonality, fecundity and spawning frequency in Lutjanus vittus (Quoy and Gaimard) from the North West Shelf of Australia. Fishery Bulletin 91: 224-236.
  3. 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.
  4. Haddon M, Punt A and Burch P 2018, simpleSA: A package containing functions to facilitate relatively simple stock assessments. R package version 0.1.18.
  5. Martell, S, and Froese, R. 2013, A simple method for estimating MSY from catch and resilience. Fish and Fisheries 14:504–514.
  6. 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.
  7. Newman, SJ, Cappo, M, and Williams, DM 2000. Age, growth and mortality of the stripey, Lutjanus carponotatus (Richardson) and the brown-stripe snapper, L. vitta (Quoy and Gaimard) from the central Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Fisheries Research, 48: 263-275
  8. Newman, SJ, Wakefield, C, Skepper, C, Boddington, and Blay, N 2020, North Coast Demersal Resource Status Report 2019. pp. 159–168. In: Gaughan, D.J. and Santoro, K. (eds.) 2020. Status Reports of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of Western Australia 2018/19: The State of the Fisheries. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Perth, Australia. 291p.
  9. Palla HP and Sotto FB 2021, Reproductive biology of brownstripe snapper Lutjanus vitta (Quoy and Gaimard, 1824) from West Sulu Sea, Philippines. Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research 47, 67–73.
  10. Palla, HP, Gonzales, BJ, Sotto, FB, Ilano, S, and Tachihara, K 2016. Age, Growth and Mortality of Brown Stripe Snapper Lutjanus vitta (Quoy and Gaimard 1824) from West Sulu Sea, Philippines, Asian Fisheries Science, 29: 28-42
  11. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (2020) Reef line fishery harvest strategy: 2020–2025. Brisbane, Queensland.
  12. Ramachandran, S, Ali, DM, Varghese, BC 2014, Age, growth and maturity of brown stripe snapper Lutjanus vitta (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824) from southwest coast of India, Journal of Marine Biology Association India, 55(2): 61–68.
  13. Ryan, KL, Hall, NG, Lai, EK, Smallwood, CB, Tate, A, Taylor, SM, Wise, BS 2019, Statewide survey of boat-based recreational fishing in Western Australia 2017/18. Fisheries Research Report No. 297. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, Perth.
  14. Saunders T. 2020 Northern Territory Brownstripe Snapper (Lutjanus vitta) stock status summary—2020 (unpublished fishery report)
  15. Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14, Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.

Downloadable reports

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