Fisheries Research Articles

Recovery of inner Shark Bay snapper (Pagrus auratus) stocks: relevant research and adaptive recreational fisheries management in a World Heritage Property

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Marine and Freshwater Research


Print: 1323-1650 Electronic: 1448-6059


daily egg production method, quota tags, recreational fishing surveys, Sparidae, stewardship.


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


Despite the increasing importance of marine recreational fishing, recreational fisheries management is often hampered by lack of adequate data and limited effectiveness of conventional regulations. In Shark Bay, Western Australia, snapper (Pagrus auratus) in the Eastern Gulf, Denham Sound and Freycinet Estuary have been a major attraction for recreational fishers since the 1960s. Various management measures were progressively introduced from 1998 onwards to limit snapper catches, including increases in minimum length, introduction of a maximum length, reductions in daily bag limit, a moratorium in the Eastern Gulf (June 1998–March 2003), a 6-week spawning closure in the Freycinet Estuary and, finally, the introduction of a Total-Allowable-Catch-based system in 2003. Stock assessments in 2011 indicated that spawning biomass in the Eastern Gulf and Denham Sound had rebuilt to the management target level while biomass in the Freycinet Estuary remained below the threshold level but was continuing to slowly rebuild. This paper summarising the research and adaptive management of the snapper fishery over the last 15+ years represents an important case study that addresses a range of issues typically associated with marine recreational fisheries, including assessment of stock size and recreational catch, evaluation of management regulations and active engagement with the recreational fishing community.



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