The demise of the snapper stocks in our gulfs may be the end result of over fishing but other important factors need to be considered, namely the decimation of the food source for these fish.
Prior to prawn trawling in Spencer Gulf it was a breeze to bag out on all varieties of fish including KG whiting and snapper. The impact of prawn trawling was dramatic with fish catches by the likes of recreational fishers dropping to almost zero at times. Not only does prawn trawling remove the base food chain for most species of fish but the devastating damage done to the seabed with enormous amounts of seaweed and sea grasses completely removed in huge swathes; thus the environment and ecology is destroyed that nurtures the basic food chain.
In addition commercial crabbing is another cause of a natural food source for snapper being seriously depleted from the gulfs and unfortunately also making it harder for the recreational crabber getting a feed.
So whilst limiting the actual fish catches will help, consideration needs to be given to look further than that.
Once the snapper ban takes effect all other viable fish species will have additional pressure put on them to meet the needs of the market and for fishers in general.
Already the impact of professional net fishing at Whyalla has had serious consequences with hardly a fish now being caught from the local beaches much to the detriment of the tourist industry and local recreational fishers.
David Sherwen, Whyalla
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