Legislative Council: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Snapper Restocking Program

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the chamber on the progress of the snapper restocking program underway at SARDI?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:56): I thank the honourable member for his question. Following the extension of the closure of snapper fishing announced in late 2022 and the associated $8.8 million support package announced at that time, there has been a lot of activity at PIRSA and SARDI in advancing some of the key programs that will help to bolster snapper stocks and improve our knowledge about the species.

A few examples include a new research program that consists of multiple projects, co-designed by a snapper science stakeholder group formed specifically to ensure that all relevant stakeholders contribute to the research, a technical science group and providing additional educational resources to recreational anglers on snapper handling and barotrauma to increase post-release survival rates, all of which can be found on PIRSA's snapper hub website.

One of the exciting projects underway to assist snapper stocks is the $1.2 million restocking program that got underway shortly after the extension to the ban was implemented. The program sees snapper broodstock that has been collected from Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent moved to SARDI's West Beach facility where they reproduce, producing the next generation of juveniles in captivity. They are looked after by SARDI staff and released back into the wild when they are approximately 90 days old and 50 millimetres long.

One thing that is particularly interesting is that the broodstock collected from Spencer Gulf is then used to reproduce the fingerlings that will be released into Spencer Gulf, and similarly the broodstock collected from Gulf St Vincent enables those to be released back into Gulf St Vincent, thereby I am advised increasing the likely outcomes of those fish. So far, approximately 150,000 snapper fingerlings were released into the Spencer Gulf in April and May last year and January this year and another 150,000 were released into Gulf St Vincent over the past few weeks.

Excitingly, in the upcoming school holidays, on either 15 or 16 April—depending on the weather—a community release event involving members of the public will take place at Black Point boat ramp on the Yorke Peninsula. It is hoped that scheduling the community release during the school holidays will allow as many community members as possible to get involved in releasing the fingerlings, with up to 20,000 juvenile snapper being carefully transferred from the transportation tanks to the shallow water using hand-held buckets. Children are encouraged to participate—under adult supervision, of course—and no registration is required to attend. Details about the event are available on the PIRSA website. I encourage anyone with an interest to head over to Yorke Peninsula in these school holidays and take part.

Having visited the fingerlings myself at West Beach just a week or so ago, with Crow Ned McHenry for his fishing segment on 7NEWS, it certainly appears that all is in readiness for thousands of snapper to make Gulf St Vincent their new home. Though we are a little over a year into the extension of the closure, there has been much work going on in the background to give the best possible opportunity for a rebound in snapper stocks to occur and for the most up-to-date scientific research to be considered as part of the decision-making process, leading up to mid-2026 when the current ban expires.

I look forward to continuing to update the chamber on the progress of the programs now well underway as part of the $8.8 million snapper support package.