Project number: 2015-216
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $313,959.94
Principal Investigator: Wayne Sumpton
Organisation: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries EcoScience Precinct
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2015 - 29 Jun 2017


In the recent “Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks Reports 2012” the status of snapper on the east coast was not defined because the stock was given a different status in each jurisdiction based on different assessment approaches and criteria for defining status. The need for a single, robust, consensus approach was identified as a priority in a FRDC funded national workshop on snapper held at SARDI in March 2013. In particular it was noted that, underpinning a unified approach to assessment and management, there is a need for: a better understanding of stock structure, a better understanding of the utility of fishery independent data sources, and better engagement with stakeholders. The project explicitly addresses a key Program 2 – Industry Priority identified as relevant to the FRABs in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. The systems and approaches developed as a result of this research will serve as a model in other fisheries where different jurisdictions share a common stock but lack a consistent assessment and management decision making framework.


1. Apply the latest cost-effective microsatellite genetic techniques to clarify and refine understanding of snapper stock structure along Australia’s east coast.
2. Assemble and harmonise all available data sets and information sources, including archival and fisher knowledge data, and develop a mechanism for stakeholder feedback on this resource.
3. Develop computer models for the east-coast snapper population that inform on inter-jurisdictional management strategies.
4. Develop protocols for inter-jurisdictional decision-making processes and stakeholder engagement.


Article • 230.31 KB
2015-216 - Historic snapper catch information from Qld and NSW.pdf


Snapper has been fished since the early development of the colony around Sydney Harbour in the late 18th century, but it was the arrival of steam power in the 1860’s that enabled fishers to start regularly targeting the abundant schools of snapper occurring in the deep-water fishing grounds outside of the sheltered bays and estuaries along the east coast of Australia.  This article covers some of the history.

Project products

Article • 118.43 KB
2015-216 - East coast snapper genetic stock structure.pdf


Recent genetic research carried out as part of the present project has shown there are two regions of genetically different snapper off the Australian east coast, where it was previously believed all snapper were part of a single genetic stock. This article shows new information indicates there is one broad region of genetic similarity from the top of the species’ range in north Queensland extending into southern New South Wales (now referred to as the ‘northern’ genetic stock – coloured blue) and a second, genetically different region is found from southern New South Wales south to Victoria and Tasmania (‘southern’ genetic stock).


Summary of data available for the inter-jurisdictional snapper project. Abbreviations - Comm (Commercial), Rec (Recreational), Chart (Charter), BRUVS (Baited Remote Underwater Video Sampling) ANSA (Australian National Sportfishing Association), FIS (Fishery Independent surveys) “+” after years signifies ongoing program of data collection with no set end date.
Article • 289.68 KB
2015-216-FRDC Update - Fishing Technology.pdf


Increasing fishing power is a feature of virtually all fisheries around the world.  It is caused by improvements in fishing technologies making it easier to catch fish nowadays compared with earlier times (if stock biomass had not changed over time).  It is common scientific practise for stock assessments to take into account the effect that these changes have had over time.
Article • 6.71 MB


This report presents the results of the first joint fishery modelling of the east coast snapper stock: informing inter-jurisdictional snapper management in eastern Australia. The project was funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) project 2015-216 for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018. Research involved the collaboration of fisheries scientists, biologists, managers and stakeholders from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The latest microsatellite genetic techniques explored the stock structure of snapper along Australia’s east coast, showing a two-stock genetic structure, a northern and a southern stock. The project also collated new data on historical snapper catches in both Queensland and New South Wales. Existing data from all jurisdictions were harmonised and used in a snapper simulation model to inform cross-jurisdictional east coast snapper management on the northern stock. Challenges in the work included harmonising data from different jurisdictions and fitting the model to multiple data sets with different trends. Hypothetical management strategies on changes to minimum legal size and total allowable harvest for all fishing sectors and waters were explored as advised by the project steering committee

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