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Protecting The Victorian Snapper Harvest

AUSTRALIA - The Department of Primary Industries is seeking limits on the amount of Victorian snapper that Commonwealth-licensed commercial trawl fishers are allowed to harvest.

Executive Director of Fisheries Victoria, Anthony Hurst, said there was currently no enforceable limit on the quantity of snapper that Commonwealth-licensed commercial trawl fishers could take as by-product on each trip they made.

“DPI has asked the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) to restrict those operators to a maximum of 50 kg of snapper by-product on each trip,” Mr Hurst said.

“Commonwealth log book and Catch Disposal Record data shows an increase in Commonwealth catches of snapper from waters off the Victorian coast between 2003 and 2009.”

Mr Hurst said the increase was attributable to trawl catches in western and central Bass Strait waters, some of which coincide with peak snapper spawning season and migrations to Port Phillip Bay.

“DPI has been working with the AFMA and the South East Trawl Fisherman's Association to identify effective measures to remove incentives for Commonwealth-licensed commercial trawl fishers to target snapper,” he said.

Such moves are consistent with the intent of the 1997 Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS) agreements and associated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that all targeted snapper fishing should be managed under Victorian fisheries legislation.

The OCS and MoU are important agreements that recognise the considerable social and economic value of the species to Victorian commercial and recreational fishers.

Accordingly, DPI has asked AFMA for immediate action to apply a 50 kg trip limit for snapper that can be taken as an authorised by-product by Commonwealth trawl operators, which would match the trip limit already in place for Commonwealth non-trawl operators in accordance with the OCS and MoU arrangements.

DPI will continue to work with AFMA and representatives of the relevant Commonwealth commercial and Victorian commercial and recreational fishing sectors to explore alternative ways to give effect to the intent of existing resource sharing arrangements for snapper and the sustainable and productive use of our fisheries resources in the longer term.

This will include exploring potential ways to develop a market-based scheme to minimise Commonwealth snapper catches, and to closely involve the Lakes Entrance Fisherman's Co-operative and AFMA through their current co-management trial.

Fisheries Victoria is committed to ensuring that Victorian recreational and commercial fishers continue to enjoy great snapper fisheries.

the Fish Site Editor

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