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Keeping Tabs on Port Phillip Bay Snapper

Sustainability +1 more

AUSTRALIA = Researchers are hoping the acoustic tags they have been inserting into snapper this spring will provide in depth knowledge about snapper movement and their preferred habitats in Port Phillip Bay.

And anglers who catch the popular fish are important to the research.

Fisheries Victoria Executive Director, Anthony Hurst said anglers’ fishing licence fees were funding the $180,000 project and their help was vital to its overall success.

“Our scientists will surgically insert acoustic tags inside about 100 snapper of various sizes in October and November,” Mr Hurst said.

“We want anglers to report the capture of tagged snapper which may turn up in Port Phillip Bay, Western Port or coastal waters throughout the warmer months.

“Underwater listening stations around the Bay will monitor the movement of tagged snapper.

“Other listening stations will be mobile in charter boats, research vessels and with selected anglers.”

Most anglers are interested in learning about fish behaviour, and this project will provide them with new insights into key aspects of snapper behaviour including:

  • broad and fine-scale movement habits;
  • how movement habits change over time;
  • how snapper utilise artificial reefs;
  • patterns of habitat use and feeding.

“We hope to learn more about how long snapper are spending in one place, how far they are traveling and over what timeframes,” Mr Hurst said.

Researcher Paul Hamer said snapper used Port Phillip Bay as a spawning and nursery area so it was important to understand the key habitats and food sources they depend on.

“The study will also investigate the diets of spawning adult snapper in the Bay with stomach contents to be sourced from angler diarists and fishing clubs,” Mr Hamer said.

Anglers will be able to recognise an acoustically tagged snapper because it will carry two yellow tags below its dorsal fin.

Anyone catching a tagged snapper should record the tag numbers, the location of capture, the time and date, and call the phone number on the tag as soon as possible.

If double tagged snapper are in good condition, anglers are encouraged to release the fish after recording its details.