Handling Snapper

Snapper - Pagrus auratus


Region of Origin

Snapper are found throughout the Eyre Peninsula. Juvenile snapper, are mainly found in inlets, bays, shallow and sheltered marine waters from Port Augusta at the eastern tip of the Eyre Peninsula through to Ceduna on the far west coast of the Eyre Peninsula. Adults are often found near reefs, underwater structures including limestone ledges, and man made structures such as artificial reefs and wrecks .


Snapper are prolific breeders making them a good sustainable choice. Strict fishing management controls the harvest of snapper to hook and line only.


The natural diet of snapper includes crabs, squid, sea urchins and mussels – all of which are found in abundant quantities on the Eyre Peninsula.

Harvesting Method

Snapper are caught by the use of handline or longline, mostly are landed live. The Ike Jime handling method is becoming more popular with commercial fishermen who are realising an increased
return for the premium quality this catching method delivers.


Caught throughout the year, the snappers are most abundant during mid-late winter and again in early summer but are available throughout the year.


Winter – Snapper are generally slightly smaller with an average of 2-3kg.
Summer – Snapper from the Eyre Peninsula can be up to 10-12kg with an average often greater than 5kg.
Small <2kg
Medium 2-4kg
Large >4kg

Methods to market

Most of the snapper caught on the Eyre Peninsula are sent to market in a fresh whole form. Processors scale and fillet, sending to restaurants in a skin on, rib cage removed form. Chefs seeking to use the fish for sashimi often take whole, scale on and gut in fish, preferring to fillet
to order.
Small fish fillets, large fish filleted portions and cutlets are available. Also available in 5kg layer packs/freezer packaging.

Handling and storage

Snapper from the Eyre Peninsula is characterised by having a high fat content, thus the flesh of the snapper is typically softer than that of snapper from other regions. It is important that the flesh of the snapper is not exposed to fresh water as this can hasten the breakdown of the flesh. Fish should be kept whole, gutted, scale on for as long as practical prior to filleting for the longest shelf life. Fillets should be dry cut, wiped gently with a cloth dampened with salt water and wrapped tightly in freezer wrap. Wrapped fillets should be stored on a drip tray sitting over ice, in a tightly sealed container.

Fresh v frozen

With it’s soft scalloping flesh and seasonally high fat content, snapper requires careful handling for effective freezing. If handled correctly, whole fish or fillets with their rib cage intact and cryovac packed, can be effectively frozen. It is unlikely that even after careful defrosting, the flesh will be suitable for sashimi.

Flesh colour

Raw – variable from white, to pink/grey but with a shiny, translucent cherry red blood line
Cooked – pearl white Bone structure
A well defined backbone and rib cage make snapper a relatively simple fish to fillet – the central ‘pin’ bones can be readily removed by V-cutting.

Flesh fat content

Winter – low to medium
Summer – medium


Snapper is characterised by it’s sweet, slightly gamey aroma with a juicy, mild flavour. The skin is especially flavoursome with a rich buttery flavour when cooked.


Sashimi grade snapper will have a firm crisp bite when raw , cooked, snapper has broad, scalloping flesh which can vary from soft in larger fish to medium in smaller ones.

Flesh yield

Whole fish Snapper will yield 50- 65% net weight for boneless fillet.
Skinless and boneless yield is up to 35%; Skin on, wing off, rib out, pin bone in yield is up to 50%.
Culinary applications
The tender, white flesh and its sweet mild flavour, make snapper a popular and versatile fish, well suited to a broad range of preparation. Snapper carry a layer of fat just under the skin, thus the skin should be left on as it crisps up with pork crackling like qualities. Served raw, poached, pan-fried, grilled, steamed, roasted or fried the snapper rarely disappoints.

Master class


1. Check snapper for
quality – firm, resilient
flesh; clear eyes; bright
red gills; fresh sea slime;
fresh sea aroma

2 Snapper 

2. Scale the snapper by
running scaler from tail
to shoulder of the fish,
running from shoulder
to belly

3 Snapper 

3. To gut fish, run knife from
base of tail to gills and
pull entrails from body
of fish

4 snapper 

4. Cut gills from base of
head and pull firmly to

5 Snapper

5. Using a pair of kitchen
shears, trim the fins
from the fish

6 snapper

6. To store whole fish, place
on a tray over ice, in an
air tight container

5 Snapper

7. Remove the rib cage
by running knife from
shoulder to belly,
following the ribs as a


8 Snapper

8. Remove the central pinbones
by V cutting them
from the main fillet