North coast of KI would be closed to snapper fishing

A group of customers after a trip with Emu Bay Fishing Charters back in March with a typical north coast KI catch of snapper and whiting.
A group of customers after a trip with Emu Bay Fishing Charters back in March with a typical north coast KI catch of snapper and whiting.

Local fishers have confirmed any closure of snapper fishery in Gulf St. Vincent would take in the north coast of Kangaroo Island.

A statewide closure, while allowing snapper fishing in South East, would take in both the north and south coasts of KI.

The SA Government is seeking public input on scenarios to rebuild South Australia's decimated snapper populations, including a proposal to close the entire state to snapper fishing until 2023.

A second option limits the closure to waters of West Coast/Spencer Gulf and Gulf St. Vincent regions, including Investigator Strait.

KI commercial fisherman Mike Fooks just retired after 20 years as the chairman of the Marine Fishers Association SA.

He confirmed the Option B closure would also take in KI's northern shore and impact on rec fishers, two pro marine scale fishers and two local charter boats.

But there had been a "bad culture" around snapper for years with all sectors targeting spawning snapper, ignoring rules and releasing fish to die, and perhaps there did need to be "a reset", he said.

"The management has been bad for years and there needs to be more resources for research and compliance."

Emu Bay Fishing Charters new charter boat True Story.

Emu Bay Fishing Charters new charter boat True Story.

Sean Pearce from Emu Bay Fishing Charters said a three-closure of snapper fishing would have devastating impact on his and other charter businesses.

And the entire tourism economy on the Island and rest of SA would suffer, he said.

He had just upgraded his charter vessel and already had multiple bookings for the rest of year for his new boat True Story.

"Customers have an expectation to catch SA's iconic species - snapper and whiting, and they are not going to want to come all the way to Emu Bay to catch snook," he said.

He said his charter licence fee had just increased 21 per cent and he was already restricted from catching King George whiting during the annual Investigator Strait whiting spawning closure in May.

Shane Murton from Fishing SA magazine said the impacts of a closure would be drastic but some hard management decisions had to be made, with Option B preferred.

The KI Council on Tuesday at the suggestion of clr Sam Mumford agreed to write to Minister Tim Whetstone seeking clarification if Option B took in KI north coast.

Over the past five years snapper stocks in Gulf St Vincent decreased by 87 per cent.

To provide feedback, visit www.YourSAy.sa.gov.au/snapper

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