Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

Lutjanis Biteanatus (Indonesian Snapper) Native or introduced?

We use a lot of these in the restaurant and they are really a delicious little fish to cook whole. They seem to only grow to about 35 cm and 600 grams and are prolific in many areas of the Whitsundays, but appear to be a newcomer. One theory is that these fish (native to Sumatra) have been carried in within ships ballasts waters and while we just don’t know it may mean this fish is invasive and caught up in regulations which limits the numbers which can be caught by recreational anglers to 5 per trip. It is so prolific it is literally possible to catch 100 in a few hours.

I recently spend time working with a marine biology professor and PHD student from JCU who are trying to get to the bottom of this fishes origin. A very interesting process of sample collection and genetic analysis whereby if the fish all come from a limited gene pool it will mean they are introduced and should be excluded from bag limits. Only one of our suppliers targets these fish so their appeal as a commercial fishery is limited and the bag limits means recreational fishers are giving them a miss as who wants to get out there and all set up only to have to stop fishing 5 minutes later because you have reached the 5 fish bag limit.

Look anywhere around the molle group, Long Island or dent in 40 to 50 meters. You sounder will show blue “fuzz” along the bottom (in the case of the image incuded the Indos are under mackerel)