Pagrus auratus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pagrus auratus
Species Authority: (Forster, 1801)
Common Name(s):
English Snapper, Porgy, Cockney Bream, Cockney Snapper, Golden Snapper, Old Man Snapper, Pink Snapper, Cockney, Red Bream, Red Pargo, Sea Bream, Bream, Squire, Squirefish
Chrysophrys guttulatus (Valenciennes, 1830)
Chrysophrys major (Temminck & Schlegel, 1843)
Chrysophrys unicolor Quoy & Gaimard, 1824
Labrus auratus Forster, 1801
Pagrosomus auratus (Forster, 1801)
Pagrosomus major (Temminck & Schlegel, 1843)
Pagrus arthurius Jordan & Starks, 1906
Pagrus chinensis Steindachner, 1870
Pagrus guttulatus Valenciennes, 1830
Pagrus latus Richardson & Solander, 1842
Pagrus micropterus Valenciennes, 1830
Pagrus ruber Döderlein, 1883
Pagrus unicolor (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)
Sciaena lata Solander, 1842
Sparosomus unicolor (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)
Sparus auratus ( Linnaeus, 1758)
Taxonomic Notes: Both the specific and generic status of this species is under review and likely to change (K. Carpenter pers. comm. 2009).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-01-29
Assessor(s): Carpenter, K., Matsuura, K., Collette, B., Nelson, J., Dooley, J., Fritzsche, R. & Fricke, R.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B., Richman, N., Beresford, A., Chenery, A. & Ram, M.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, H., Lutz, M., Batchelor, A., Jopling, B., Kemp, K., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Smith, J. & Livingston, F.
The validity of the Pink Snapper, Pagrus auratus, is currently under review and therefore this species is Data Deficient at present.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Pink Snapper, Pagrus auratus, is distributed around the coastal waters of New Zealand, Australia, China, and Japan. The area in which this species is distributed is approximately 16, 359, 123 km2.
Australia; China; Hong Kong; Japan; New Zealand; Norfolk Island; Taiwan, Province of China
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Pagrus auratus is described as the dominant species in inshore communities of northern New Zealand.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Pink Snapper is a demersal species and can be found to depths of 200 m, although is most abundant at depths of 15 m - 60 m. This species forms large aggregations within the continental shelf and inhabits a wide range of habitats from rocky reefs to areas of sand and mud substrates. Individuals prey upon a number of organisms including crustaceans, marine worms, starfish, shellfish, and smaller fishes. This species can live up to 60 years old and has a very low natural rate of mortality. Individuals are capable of substantial migrations (Hayes 1994).

Snapper congregate prior to spawning and move on to the spawning ground around November to December. They are serial spawners, releasing eggs over the spring and summer months. The young will school in shallow waters, and move into deeper waters in the winter months.

The global population of Pink Snapper exists in a number of subpopulations due to genetic isolation of the northern and southern hemisphere (D. Paulin pers. comm. 2008). This is also seen on a regional scale. In New Zealand there is little mixing between the East Northland and Hauraki Gulf Snapper. This is also seen in Shark Bay, Western Australia where there is evidence to suggest that there is little if any mixing between coastal and ocean snapper (Edwards et al. 1989, 1999; Johnson et al. 1986; Moran et al. 1998, 2003; Nahas et al. 2003).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Pink Snapper is one of the most commercially important fisheries in New Zealand (Paul and Tarring 1980), Australia, and Japan. It is also an important recreational fishery.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Pink Snapper is one of the most commercially important fisheries in New Zealand (Paul and Tarring 1980), Australia, and Japan. It is also an important recreational fishery. It is harvested using a number of methods including set lines, bottom trawls, pair trawls and midwater trawls.

Over the past 25 years, the snapper fisheries of Australia and New Zealand were described as over-exploited as stocks showed signs of collapse. In New Zealand, snapper landings peaked at 18,000 tonnes, however by the mid 1980s the catches had declined to 8,500 - 9,000 tonnes. Since then New Zealand implemented one of the most comprehensive Quota Mangement Systems to manage the remaining stock and set Total Allowable Commercial Catch limits based on the biological maximum sustainable yield (BMSY).

The New Zealand snapper fishery is split into 10 Quota Management Areas (QMA). Four areas of the fishery, SNA1, SNA2, SNA7 and SNA8, account for nearly all of the total landings. Within SNA1, there are 2 sub-stocks, East Northland and Hauraki Gulf/ Bay of Plenty. A stock assessment of the East Northland sub-stock indicates that the population currently meets the BMSY reference point and is expected to exceed this (67% probability) come the end of the 20 year projection period. The Hauraki Gulf stock currently falls below the BMSY reference point, but there is a 100% probability that it will exceed this point within the projection period. Estimates from SNA2 indicate that the stock is near or just below the BMSY but is expected to exceed this level by 2011, assuming fishing effort, landings, and natural mortality remain constant. The stock in SNA7 is thought to be well above the BMSY and will continue to further increase even if future landings were significantly larger than at present. The stock in SNA8 is thought to be below the BMSY, however estimates from this assessment were considered unreliable due to model error.

Analysis of the Queensland fishery stock, has been controversial. Most data on the stock is derived from recreational and commercial landings. Recreational data imples that the stock is in severe decline and below the BMSY, while commercial data would suggest that the stock is in a slow rate of decline. There are at present, concerns about the long-term sustainability of this fishery as fishing effort moves further north to new fishing grounds.

At present there is no evidence to suggest that stocks in the Shark Bay Snapper Fishery are below reference points or limits. Estimates of the stock indicate that 70% of the virgin stock biomass still remains.

In 1988, the Japanese successfully cultured 45,000 tonnes of Pink Snapper, three times the amount that is harvested from wild stocks. Other countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, are running trial aquaculture experiments in an attempt to aid recovery of exploited stocks.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are now a range of conservation measures in place for the long-term sustainability of global Pink Snapper stocks. Most of the commercial and recreational fisheries have imposed TACC and recreational bag limits based on the biological maximum sustainable yield, in an attempt to aid recovery of over-fished stocks. The distribution of this species also covers a number of marine protected areas including the Okakari Point Marine Reserve and the Tawharanui Marine Park in New Zealand.

Since the 1980s, Japan has managed to successfully culture this species on a commercial scale and now obtains 75% of its annual quota from captive bred stock. New Zealand and Australia are both developing their aquaculture industries in an attempt to alleviate pressure on wild populations.

Further research on the stock status of the Queensland and New South Wales fisheries is needed before wild stocks collapse. In consideration of the genetic isolation of stocks, seen on both a global and localised scale, future conservation efforts should seek to protect spawning grounds.

Citation: Carpenter, K., Matsuura, K., Collette, B., Nelson, J., Dooley, J., Fritzsche, R. & Fricke, R. 2010. Pagrus auratus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 October 2014.
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