Councils call to suspend snapper ban

Eyre Peninsula councils are calling on the state government to suspend plans for a snapper ban until a scientific study has been completed.

The three-year ban, proposed to be introduced either statewide or in the West Coast/Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent areas on October 1, was one of the topics on the agenda at an Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association meeting in Ceduna last Friday.

Opposition spokesperson for local government Tony Piccolo met with Eyre Peninsula mayors, council chief executive officers and EPLGA officials at the quarterly meeting and said the snapper ban would scale down the Eyre Peninsula's fishing industry without more "rigorous" scientific study.

Mr Piccolo said the councils had raised concerns about the lack of consultation before the decision was made.

"Opposition to the state government's three-year ban on snapper fishing in West Coast and Spencer Gulf waters was palpable," he said.

"The gathered mayors passed a motion calling on the Marshall Liberal Government to suspend this ban until a rigorous scientific study has been completed."

EPLGA president Sam Telfer will ask Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone to reconsider the ban at the next SA Region Organisation of Councils meeting, "due to the substantial negative impact this will have...on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula".

Mr Piccolo said the message he received from Eyre Peninsula councils and communities was that they wanted genuine consultation over matters such as the proposed snapper ban.

"The message I heard was that these communities want the state government to engage in genuine consultation to avoid decisions which could have devastating consequences for their industries and their peoples' livelihoods," he said.

"These communities support many of the state's most important export industries - agriculture, aquaculture and tourism - and what they don't want to hear is a minister suggesting to fishermen in Streaky Bay that they should instead fish for golden perch, a freshwater species commonly caught along the Murray River."

Mr Whetstone said when announcing the proposed ban options that fishers should look to catch other species as the ban only affected snapper.

Consultation for the proposed snapper ban ended on August 30 and Mr Whetstone said hundreds of submissions were received.

"The state government has received 913 submissions from across South Australia during the consultation period on our proposed snapper management scenarios," he said.

"The initial results show that nearly 54 per cent of respondents support a three-year statewide closure with 25 per cent supporting a closure for just the West Coast/Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent regions.

Mr Whetstone reiterated that over the past five years, stocks had reduced by 87 per cent in the Gulf St Vincent and by 23 per cent in the Spencer Gulf.

"The severity of the situation has left me with no option but to contemplate a hard decision," he said.

"I am now considering all of the submissions before making a final decision in the coming weeks."