New research reveals the emerging fisheries of Tasmania

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New research reveals the emerging fisheries of Tasmania

Thirty years ago, passionate snapper fisher Damon Sherriff was lucky to catch 10 a year in Tasmania.

He's seen his catch rate jump over the past few years.

He said that I caught over 200 snapper per season, so it shows how much the species has exploded in Tasmania.

Since the early 1990s, Mr Sherriff has been chasing snapper and fishing mainly out of the Tamar estuary in the state's north.

While he loves a fresh fillet, the catch rate for his favourite eating fish, King George whiting, has skyrocketed as well.

The whiting is another emerging species, it's a fish that's always been in Tasmania like the snapper, but the last few years it's really exploded and it's a very common fish now. His experience hooking more warm-water fish in Tasmanian waters is supported by new research from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies IMAS Scientists looking at key biological and ecological traits of snapper, yellowtail kingfish and King George whiting.

They've become more abundant in Tasmania, marine scientist Alexia Graba-Landry said.

As the waters become warmer over a larger portion of the state, that leads to better habitat for these fish and they're likely to become more abundant. The research found that yellowtail kingfish were present as small immature fish in Tasmanian waters between October and May, while snapper were present year-round and there were reproductively mature adults.

The research said that king George whiting were also in Tasmania year-round and with adults successfully reproducing.

There are historical records of King George whiting in Tasmania since the 1920s but they are only occasional records, so increasingly we are seeing more and more reports of King George whiting in Tasmania from recreational and commercial fishers, said Dr Graba-Landry.

Under future warming the habitat is likely to become more suitable for all three species, so they are likely to extend their range and increase their abundance. The scientific team ran data through modelling to find out what effect future population increases would have on local ecosystems.

There is little evidence for an ecosystem collapse if these species extend their range and increase their abundance, according to Dr Graba-Landry.

It's good news for fishers - King George whiting has become so comfortable it's been flagged by IMAS as a developing fishery to keep an eye on.

Dr Graba-Landry said we're presented with a unique opportunity to manage these emerging fisheries.

A lot of the research was done with the help of recreational fishers.

Instead of throwing out their fish waste, they have been donating their fish skeletons to scientists, helping them fill critical knowledge gaps on some species.

There were 16 drop-off points at tackle shops around the state.

There was a lot of enthusiasm and 30 recreational fishers donated frames, according to Dr Graba-Landry.

Mr Sherriff donated his fair share. The snapper will remain his favourite for the avid fisher.

The amateur artist and fish taxidermist loves to draw and paint them and the prettier ones go on the wall.

I love the colours in the snapper and I really enjoy looking at a snapper fresh out of the water, he said.

I really enjoy trying to replicate the colors in a fish.