The influence of fish movement on regional fishery production and stock structure for South Australia's Snapper (Chrysophrys auratus) fishery

Project Number:



SARDI Food Safety and Innovation

Principal Investigator:

Anthony J. Fowler

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





Developing a comprehensive understanding of the movement patterns and stock structure of a fish species is crucial for identifying the appropriate scale and strategy for management. In south eastern Australia, there are several adjacent Snapper fisheries operating in South Australian (SA), Victorian and Commonwealth waters that are managed using different strategies. The SA fishery, currently Australia’s largest Snapper fishery, is divided into contiguous regions whose relative contributions to total catch have changed dramatically in recent years. The extent to which these different regional or jurisdictional populations represent a single or multiple stocks is poorly understood because of the limited understanding of the patterns of fish movement. For example, have the recent high catches of Snapper from Northern Gulf St. Vincent and South East resulted from high levels of biomass built up through local demographic processes or have fish moved in from adjacent regions or possibly even from Victorian or Commonwealth waters? If large-scale movement is involved, it must be temporally complex as it appears to not conform to a regular, annual pattern. The need here is to elucidate the regions of origin and movement patterns of fish that currently contribute to high regional catches in SA to inform about the demographic processes that drive the spatial and temporal variation in fishery productivity. This will point to the appropriate spatial scale for management. It would also provide insight for resource allocation amongst the different fisheries, which is currently being considered by AFMF to improve resource sharing arrangements for Snapper.


1. To determine the origins of Snapper that occupy the different regions of South Australian waters, and determine if and when during their life histories that any large-scale movement took place to account for current patterns of dispersion. This will be based on a suite of otolith-based techniques.

2. To develop a better understanding of the movement behaviour of Snapper at several spatial and temporal scales throughout Gulf St. Vincent (SA), using acoustic telemetry techniques.

3. To develop a better spatial management strategy for the Snapper fisheries of south eastern Australia based on our enhanced understanding of inter-regional and cross-jurisdictional fish movement.