Snook (2020)

Sphyraena novaehollandiae

  • Nils Krueck (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • John Stewart (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Paul Lewis (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Mike Steer (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Victorian Fisheries Authority (Victorian Fisheries Authority)

Date Published: June 2021

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Also known as Shortfin Pike, Snook is distributed around southern Australia. The status of stocks in SA, TAS and WA is considered to be sustainable. Catches of Snook in NSW are considered to be negligible. In VIC, stock status is undefined.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Tasmania Tasmania Sustainable Catch, effort, CPUE trends, catch curve analysis
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Stock Structure

Snook, also known as Shortfin Pike, is distributed around southern Australia from Jurien Bay in Western Australia to southern Queensland, including Tasmania. Snook are found over seagrass beds and kelp reefs near the surface both in inshore and offshore waters of up to 20 m depth [Bertoni 1995, Edgar 2008, Gormon et al. 2008]. There is no information available on the stock structure of Snook in Australian waters. Thus, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

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Stock Status


The fishery for Snook in Tasmania is small and generally concentrated in northern areas of the state. Snook is commonly landed as a byproduct species, but also known to be targeted by some fishers. Snook is caught by using troll or small mesh net fishing gear (targeted operations) and by beach seine and gillnetting operations (by-product) [Moore et al. 2018]. Prior to 2000, commercial landings of Snook averaged about 15 t per year, before declining to around 5 t since then. Following fluctuations between 3-10 t over recent years, commercial catches in 2018–19 declined to only 2.7 t [Krueck et al. 2020]. While Snook do not appear to represent an important target species for recreational fishers, the most recent estimate of landed individuals for the 2017–18 season was 9000 individuals, which translates to approximately 9 t. This latest recreational catch estimate is twice as high as the previous estimate for the 2012–13 season, but almost identical to an earlier estimate for the 2000–01 season [Lyle et al. 2019]. Given simultaneous recent declines in commercial catches, the latest recreational catch estimate is approximately three times higher than the current commercial catch. However, the latest recreational catch estimate was associated with notably high uncertainty (a large standard error) [Lyle et al. 2019].

Trolling and mesh net effort for Snook have been variable. Catch rates have also been variable for both methods, but do not indicate long-term decline. A recent catch-curve analysis based on fishery-dependent sampling in northern state waters suggests that fishing mortality (F) is low, with F estimated to be about one quarter of natural mortality (M) (F=0.06 yr-1, M=0.24 yr-1) [Webb 2017].

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired. On this basis, Snook in Tasmania is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Snook biology [Bertoni 1995, Edgar 2008, Gormon et al. 2008]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Snook 20 years, 1 100 mm TL 420 mm TL 
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Snook

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Fishing methods
Hand Line, Hand Reel or Powered Reels
Mesh Net
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Tasmania
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Bag and possession limits
Bag limits
Commercial 2.70t
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Approximatley 9000 individuals (2017/18)

Western Australia – Recreational (catch) Western Australia boat-based recreational catch from 1 September 2017–30 August 2018 [Ryan et al 2019]. Shore based catches are largely unknown.

Western Australia – Recreational (management methods) In Western Australia, a recreational fishing from boat licence is required to take finfish from a powered vessel.

Victoria – Commercial (catch) Snook is not differentiated from Longfin Pike caught in Victorian commercial fisheries.

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.

Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine.

Tasmania – Commercial (catch) Catches reported for the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery are for the period 1 July to 30 June the following year. The most recent assessment available is for 2018/19.

Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous persons engaged in traditional fishing activities in marine waters are exempt from holding recreational fishing licences, but must comply with all other fisheries rules as if they were licensed. For details, see the policy document "Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities” (https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Policy%20for%20Aboriginal%20tags%20and%20alloting%20an%20UIC.pdf).

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Snook - note confidential catch not shown

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  1. Bertoni, M, 1995, The reproductive biology and feeding habits of the snook, Sphyraena novaehollandiae, in South Australian waters. Southern Fisheries, 3:34–35
  2. Department of Fisheries Western Australia 2011, Resource Assessment Framework (RAF) for finfish resources in Western Australia. Fisheries Occasional Publication No. 85. Department of Fisheries Western Australia, Perth.
  3. Edgar, GJ 2008, Australian marine life: the plants and animals of temperate waters Reed New Holland Publishers, Sydney, Australia.
  4. Giri, K, and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational fishing Survey 2013/14. Fisheries Victoria. Internal Report Series No. 62.
  5. Gormon, M, Bray, D and Kuiter, R 2008, Fishes of Australia’s southern coast Reed New Holland Publishers, Sydney, Australia.
  6. Krueck, N, Hartmann, K and Lyle, J 2020, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2018/19, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.
  7. Moore, B, Lyle, J and Hartmann, K 2018, Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment 2016/17, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.
  8. Rogers, PJ, Tsolos, A, Boyle, MK. 2020. South Australian Charter Boat Fishery Data Summary. Final Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2011/000438-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1070. 19pp.
  9. 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, Western Australia. 195pp
  10. Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, Rogers, PJ, Bailleul, F, Earl J, Matthews, D, Drew, M and Tsolos, A. 2020. Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2018. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1049.
  11. Victorian Fisheries Authority 2020, Review of key Victorian fish stocks — 2019. VFA Internal Report Series, May 2020.
  12. Webb 2017, Snook (Sphyraena novaehollandiae): growth, mortality and reproductive biology in north-western Tasmania. MSc thesis, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.

Downloadable reports

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