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Snapper were introduced into the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1986. The commercial fishing year for snapper is 1 October to 30 September the following year.
The initial Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACCs) for snapper were set in 1986, on their introduction into the QMS. The TACs and allowances for stocks were made in later years, and these varied between management areas.
Snapper 1 is the largest of all the snapper stocks supporting the highest catches by commercial and recreational fishers.
Snapper occupy a wide range of habitats, including rocky reefs and areas of mud and sandy bottom. They are serial spawners, releasing many batches of eggs during spring and summer.
Snapper first reach maturity from 20 to 28 cm fork length at 3-4 years of age.
Water temperature appears to play an important part in spawning success and subsequent recruitment of legal size fish. Generally, strong year classes correspond to warm years and weak classes correspond to cold years.
Snapper from Tasman Bay/Golden Bay and the west coast of the North Island grow faster and reach a larger average size than elsewhere.
Snapper 1 is split into 3 sub-stocks for assessment purposes. The last assessment in 2013 reported the East Northland sub-stock at 24% of unfished biomass, and the combined Hauraki Gulf – Bay of Plenty sub-stocks at 19% of unfished biomass.
The status of the Snapper 2, 3 & 10 stocks are unknown.
There is an updated stock assessment for Snapper 7 showing a significant and sustained increase in biomass following some particularly good years of recruitment, young fish entering the fishery. In 2020 the SNA 7 stock is estimated to be at or above the interim management target of 40% of unfished biomass.
Results of a stock assessment for Snapper 8 stock are due later in 2020.
Table 1: TACs, TACCs and allowances for snapper, in tonnes (t).
|Fishstock||Recreational allowance||Māori customary allowance||Other mortality||TACC||TAC|
|TOTAL (tonnes)||3702||127||636||6407||10830 (TACs)|
The development of commercial snapper fisheries began in the last 1800s and expanded in the 1970s with increased catches by trawlers and Danish seine vessels. In the 1980s an increasing proportion of the SNA 1 catch was taken by longlining as the Japanese iki jime market developed.
Significant quantities of snapper were taken by Japanese vessels from the late 1950s until 1977. Data for these catches is incomplete.
The snapper fishery is the largest recreational fishery in New Zealand. It is the major target species on the northeast and northwest coast of the North Island, and is targeted seasonally around the rest of the North Island and the top of the South Island.
Annual harvest of snapper for Māori customary purposes is unknown.
A 25 cm minimum size limit applies to the commercial catch of snapper in all areas. The minimum size limit (MLS) applying to recreational catch varies between areas. In SNA 2 & 8 the MLS is 27 cm, in SNA 3 & 7 the MLS is 25 cm. Since 2014 the minimum legal size for recreational catch of snapper in the Snapper 1 management area has been 30 cm.