Project number: 2017-023
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $109,546.00
Principal Investigator: Anthony J. Fowler
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 31 Dec 2017 - 29 Jun 2019


South Australia’s Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF) is faced with numerous issues that make its management difficult and challenging, causing considerable uncertainty for commercial fishers about the future of their industry. One issue relates to the numerous poor stock status classifications that have recently been assigned to stocks of the three primary species of King George Whiting, Snapper and Southern Garfish. These reflect long-term targeting that has finally impacted on the levels of stock biomass. It is now generally recognised that the MSF must undergo significant structural reform to redress this and other issues.

The Marine Scalefish Strategic Review Committee has proposed a broad plan for overall structural reform by 2022. Such reform would provide opportunity to diversify the fishery in terms of target species, in order to: re-direct fishing effort away from the compromised stocks of the primary species to facilitate their recoveries; and to increase overall MSF productivity and profitability. There is a need to identify: legitimate MSF species that are currently under-utilised; as well as species that are not yet recognised as legitimate but nevertheless may be potential commercial fishery species. Any consideration of increasing fishery production for such species must conform to the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). There is a need to formally consider the potential barriers to enhancing production of these species from the perspectives of the environment, economics and governance. This will be addressed using an established risk assessment framework that is based on the National ESD Reporting Framework.


1. To assess the potential to diversify South Australia’s Marine Scalefish Fishery by increasing production of currently under-utilised species, whilst conforming to the principles of ecologically sustainable development
2. To provide advice about the potential to increase fishery catch for individual species in the commercial MSF fishery, and to provide guidance in each case with respect to the need for further research, economic development and regulatory reform

Final report

Authors: Assoc. Prof Anthony J. Fowler Dr Paul Rogers Dr Jonathan Smart
Final Report • 2020-09-14 • 6.33 MB


South Australia’s Marine Scalefish Fishery (MSF) is facing a number of complex issues that are affecting business profitability and stock sustainability. One particular issue relates to the long-term reliance of the fishery on the three primary finfish species of King George Whiting, Snapper and Southern Garfish, which has compromised the status of a number of their stocks. In response to the numerous issues that the fishery is facing, a process has been initiated to implement a structural reform of the fishery. This reform provides an opportunity to implement strategies to divert fishing effort away from the primary species, and to diversify the fishery. However, this requires identifying taxa that could support higher commercial catches. Achieving this would need to conform to the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), particularly with respect to not compromising the demographic processes or stock sustainability of any taxa.

Related research


National Snapper Workshop - Rebuilding our iconic Snapper stocks

1. To identify key issues and challenges for Snapper, review Snapper research, and critique jurisdictional management arrangements.
Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)