Snapper Fishing Quotas

Tuesday May 12, 2020

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:36): I rise to make brief mention and thank the 379 people in my electorate who signed the petition calling on the state Liberal government to stop the snapper tag system and express their concern in relation to the proposed snapper management system. These 379 people come from Carpenter Rocks, Port MacDonnell, Mount Gambier, Glencoe, Pelican Point, Kongorong, Naracoorte, OB Flat and Beachport. They have asked me to represent them in this house and call on the state government to cease the tag snapper strategy and implement a bag limit of three snapper per day.


At the outset, it needs to be acknowledged that the SARDI report revealed an 87 per cent decrease in snapper stocks in Gulf St Vincent and a 23 per cent decrease in snapper stocks in Spencer Gulf over the past five years. However, the report does not take into consideration the South-East waters down in my electorate, where conditions are very different from those in both gulfs and have seen some of our rec fishers, unfairly in their eyes, penalised due to a statewide strategy.


It is really important to acknowledge that they are frustrated because our snapper stocks in the Lower South-East come from Port Phillip Bay over in Victoria. Just for reference, the Victorian bag limit is 10 snapper per day and the size limit is 28 centimetres. In South Australia, it is 38 centimetres, and you need to apply for a tag with which you can take five snapper for the entire season. Unfortunately, just 64 people from Mount Gambier were able to catch snapper in the 2020 period, and those 64 can take only five for the entire season.


Of course, it still does not recognise that there is a Victorian border quite literally five minutes away and people are able to travel over that border and fish in Victorian waters. Why do I reference Port Phillip Bay as being really important? Well, Port Phillip Bay is where the South-East snapper stocks come from. If you look it up, the Vic fishing website records record numbers of snapper in 2018 in Port Phillip Bay. In fact, I quote from this report:


This year has proven to be a phenomenal year for Victoria's snapper stocks with record recruitment found in Port Phillip Bay. 2018 is the best year…of snapper stock in the past 26-years of sampling by the Victoria Fisheries Authority leading to predictions of strong catches in the [forward future]…


Particularly in three years' time, which, of course, will be 2021 for our region. The report continues:


Port Phillip Bay is the major source of replenishment for snapper in our…waters. Annually the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) completes snapper trawl surveys in Port Phillip Bay to track the stocks and to gain an understanding on what drives their population. Dr Paul Hamer, Senior Research Scientist at VFA, has been conducting the surveys for 19-years.


And he indicates that this is the best year that he has seen. In light of that, the minister has always said that he will let science dictate the regulations going forward, and on behalf of the 379 people who have signed the petition, and in particular people like Malcolm Lockwood who was unable to secure one of the five tags for snapper, I am asking the minister that he allow science to dictate the strategy in the South-East waters for 2021.


The people I have spoken to are very comfortable with the idea of a bag limit of three snapper per day for the Lower South-East for the next two years. When you compare that with Victoria's 10 per bag limit and 28 centimetres, ours staying at 38 and a bag limit of three appears very reasonable to me.


Mr BROWN: Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.


A quorum having been formed: