Australasian snapper

The Australasian snapper (Chrysophrys auratus) or silver seabream is a species of porgie found in coastal waters of Australia, Philippines, Indonesia, mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and New Zealand. Its distribution areas in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are disjunct.[2] Although it is almost universally known in Australia and New Zealand as snapper, it does not belong to the snapper family, Lutjanidae. It is highly prized as an eating fish.

Australasian snapper
Snapper03 melb aquarium.jpg
Australasian snapper, Pagrus auratus, at Melbourne Aquarium.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Sparidae
Genus: Pagrus
P. auratus
Binomial name
Pagrus auratus
(Forster, 1801)
Distribution of Australasian snapper

Chrysophrys auratus (Forster, 1801)

The species name is Chrysophrys auratus, but previously referred to as Pagrus auratus.[1][2]

Regional variation in namingEdit

Large snapper caught off Frankston, Victoria, in 1893

Australia: cocknies (young smaller than legal size), red bream or pinkies (legal size), squire or squirefish (when bigger), snapper (at full size)

Western Australia: "pink snapper"[3] to distinguish it from unrelated species[4]

Victoria: also schnapper (ref: Schnapper Point, Mornington)

South Australia: the name "ruggers" is often used for smaller fish of legal size

Aboriginal people of the Port Jackson area in Australia: they called it wollamie[5] (also spelt wollamai, and other variations). European colonists there knew it as the "light horseman", for the resemblance of the fish's skull to the helmet of a light horseman.[6]

New Zealand: snapper (or New Zealand snapper when there is need to distinguish from other species of snapper). New Zealand Māori: tāmure (adult fish), karatī (juveniles)[7]


Capture of wild Australasian snapper in thousand tonnes, 1950–2010, as reported by the FAO[8]

The Australasian snapper is found on all coasts of New Zealand, especially in the north. In Australia, it is found along the south coast, mainly near Kiama, Berry, Gerringong, Gerroa, Huskisson, Vincentia, and Shoalhaven. It is also found on the coast of Tasmania, but in smaller numbers. The fish spawn in inshore waters and live in rocky areas and reefs of up to 200 m (660 ft) deep. They school, and will migrate between reefs. Larger fish are known to enter estuaries and harbours, for example Port Phillip Bay has a renowned seasonal snapper run.

Growth rates within the wild stocks vary with some (i.e. the Hauraki Gulf, NZ) growing rapidly and to a smaller maximum length, while stocks in east and west Australia are known to grow more slowly. The species is capable of living about 40 years throughout much of its range in Australia, and the Australian recordholder of 40 years and 10 months was a 93.5 cm (36.8 in) large-nosed male, caught on 1 September 2007 off Bunbury, West Australia, and photographed on the day of capture.[9] Sexual maturity is reached at about 30 cm (12 in) long and a small percentage of the males will turn into females at puberty. Large individuals of both sexes develop a prominent hump on the head.[10] Anglers are advised not to take immature fish, so as not to reduce breeding stock. The legal size in Australia varies by state, from 35 cm (14 in) and a bag limit of five fish per person in Queensland to 50 cm (20 in) in Western Australia. During spawning, these fish obtain a metallic green sheen which indicates a high concentration of acid buildup within the scales' infrastructure. Minimum sizes are supposed to be designed to allow these fish to participate in spawning runs at least once before they become available to the fishery, but given the slow growth rates of this species, a need exists to consider area closures and/or further increase the minimum sizes in each state to reduce the chances of growth overfishing of the various populations of snapper throughout its range. This may be important with recent developments in technology such as GPS.


Aquaculture production of farmed Australasian snapper in thousand tonnes, 1950–2010, as reported by the FAO[8]
Global harvest in thousand tonnes[8]

Catches of Australasian snapper have varied between 25,600 and 34,300 tonnes in 2000–2009, with Japan and New Zealand reporting the largest catches.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Carpenter, K.; Matsuura, K.; Collette, B.; Nelson, J.; Dooley, J.; Fritzsche, R. & Fricke, R. (2010). "Pagrus auratus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Chrysophrys auratus" in FishBase. September 2012 version.
  3. ^ "Relationships among partial and whole lengths and weights for Western Australian Pink Snapper Chrysophrys auratus (Sparidae) - Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, Fish for the Future". Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-22.
  4. ^ "Fishing Australia with the Definitive Aussie Interactive Sports Fishing Website! - Sportsfish Australia". Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-22.
  5. ^ Australian Aboriginal Words in English, R. M. W. Dixon, Oxford University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-19-553099-3
  6. ^ Matthew Flinders. A Voyage to Terra Australis, volume 1 at Project Gutenberg, entry for 3 May 1802
  7. ^ Snapper, New Zealand's Greatest Fish, Te Ika Rangatira o Aotearoa, Sam Mossman, AUT Media, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9582829-6-3
  8. ^ a b c Based on data sourced from the FishStat database Archived November 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Norriss, J.V.; Crisafulli, B. (2010). "Longevity in Australian Snapper". Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia. 93: 129–32.
  10. ^ Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, 2011, Snapper, Chrysophrys auratus, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 09 Sep 2014,
  11. ^ FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2011). Yearbook of fishery and aquaculture statistics 2009. Capture production (PDF). Rome: FAO. p. 162.
  • Allan, Richard (1990). Australian Fish and How to Catch Them. Landsdowne Publishing. ISBN 1-86302-674-6.
  • "Snapper". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. 1966. Retrieved 2006-07-22.

External linksEdit