Port Phillip Bay recorded the best snapper breeding results last summer in eight years. This means that recreational fishers should expect better catch rates in the years to follow.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said a recent survey by Fisheries Victoria found snapper spawning in the Bay produced 322 juvenile snapper – the equal third highest recorded in the past 21 years.
Mr Walsh said the result of the assessment was fantastic news for recreational anglers, licensed commercial fishers, charter boat operators and consumers.
'Snapper spawning success has been below average for the last seven years, with four years of very low or failed spawning,' Mr Walsh said.
'However, this latest assessment shows a welcome spike in successful spawning, which should be reflected in higher catches of snapper in years to come.
'The spawning success will be obvious over the coming few years by the larger numbers of snapper under 20 centimetres and in six to ten years by an increased catch rate of larger adult snapper.'
Mr Walsh said low currents, warm summer water temperatures and abundant plankton and bottom dwelling invertebrate life in Port Phillip Bay had likely provided an optimal growing environment for small snapper larvae and
'Port Phillip Bay is the main spawning and nursery habitat for snapper in central and western Victoria, providing replenishment for the ‘western snapper stock’ that extends from Wilsons Promontory to south eastern South
Australia,' Mr Walsh said.
'The success of snapper spawning in the Bay each year is measured by annual research surveys of the numbers of baby snapper and is highly variable.
'Some years see a complete failure of spawning and other years see baby fish in abundance. This variation is the major influence on the numbers of fish entering the fishery years later.'
The cause of variation in spawning success is not well understood, but is thought to be linked to environmental influences that affect the abundance of microscopic plankton that snapper larvae feed on during their first few
weeks of life.
Fisheries Victoria now has 21 years of survey data on snapper spawning success, and this data has proved highly successful in predicting future catches.