Baby snapper release to boost depleted gulf fish stocks

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Depleted snapper stocks in South Australian gulf waters are set for a boost with the first release of fingerlings.

The first 100,000 baby snapper, bred at Adelaide's Aquatic Sciences Centre, will be released near Port Pirie in Spencer Gulf during May.

The remaining 900,000 fish will be released into both Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf over the next two years.

The $1.2 million restocking program is part of a wider $8.8 million support package to restore fish numbers.

Critically low stocks resulted in a ban on taking snapper along SA's west coast and from the two gulfs until the end of July 2026.

Snapper fishing in the state's southeast is allowed but subject to bag limits.

Primary Industries Minister Clare Scriven said the government wanted to ensure the snapper fishery could be enjoyed by fishers and consumers for years to come.

"The state government is committed to sustainable management of all our aquatic resources. It is vital we protect the state's iconic snapper stocks now and into the future," the minister said.

"This imminent release will assist the recovery of snapper stocks from critically low levels in South Australia's gulf waters."

The fingerlings will be released in batches from beaches close to seagrass habitats in Spencer Gulf, where young fish settle naturally. The timing of the releases will align with their natural breeding cycle.

Recreational fishing group RecFish SA said the release of the juvenile fish would bolster recovery efforts for the important species.