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Hitchcock G.,Asia Pacific College | Finn M.A.,Australian Fisheries Management Authority | Burrows D.W.,James Cook University | Johnson J.W.,Queensland Museum
Memoirs of the Queensland Museum

Until recently the freshwater fish fauna of Torres Strait was virtually unknown. This paper reports on museum collections of fishes obtained in the area prior to 2005 and on several collections made in the period 2005-2011 from fresh and brackish waters on seven islands in the region: Boigu, Saibai, Mabuiag, Badu, Mua, Thursday and Horn. Eight of the fifteen freshwater fish species reported are new records for the Torres Strait Islands. Information on other aquatic fauna is presented, and the potential threats of introduced (exotic) species and sea-level rise associated with climate change, are considered. © Queensland Museum. Source

Prescott J.,Australian Fisheries Management Authority | Zhou S.,CSIRO | Prasetyo A.P.,Research Center for Fisheries Management and Conservation
Marine and Freshwater Research

Tropical sea cucumbers are commonly exploited by small-scale, poorly managed fisheries. A fundamental problem in managing sea cucumber fisheries is the lack of basic knowledge of important life history characteristics for most species. As a result of plastic body dimensions, biological research on this group of animals becomes exceptionally challenging. To improve our understanding of essential biological parameters, we conducted a study to investigate correlations among various body measurements. We analysed a total of 18 sea cucumber species and more than 6600 individuals collected at Scott Reef in the Timor Sea, north-west Australia. We used hierarchical Bayesian errors-in-variables models to specifically take into account measurement errors that are obviously unavoidable. The measures included three types of weights (wet weight, gutted weight and dry weight) and two body dimensions (length and width). The modelling reveals that using both body length and width as independent variables, wet weight increases approximately linearly with body length, but is a power function (∼1.6) of body width, although variability exists among species. Dry weight tends to increase more slowly with body length, but has a similar power function of body width. Linear relationships are established between the three types of weights. On average, ∼11% of a live specimen and ∼16% of a gutted specimen is processed to the commercially traded dry body wall. Our results can be applied to sea cucumbers in other areas and can be useful for data standardisation and size-based fisheries management. © CSIRO 2015. Source

Cvitanovic C.,James Cook University | Wilson S.K.,Marine Science Program | Wilson S.K.,University of Western Australia | Fulton C.J.,Australian National University | And 31 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Management

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a primary policy instrument for managing and protecting coral reefs. Successful MPAs ultimately depend on knowledge-based decision making, where scientific research is integrated into management actions. Fourteen coral reef MPA managers and sixteen academics from eleven research, state and federal government institutions each outlined at least five pertinent research needs for improving the management of MPAs situated in Australian coral reefs. From this list of 173 key questions, we asked members of each group to rank questions in order of urgency, redundancy and importance, which allowed us to explore the extent of perceptional mismatch and overlap among the two groups. Our results suggest the mismatch among MPA managers and academics is small, with no significant difference among the groups in terms of their respective research interests, or the type of questions they pose. However, managers prioritised spatial management and monitoring as research themes, whilst academics identified climate change, resilience, spatial management, fishing and connectivity as the most important topics. Ranking of the posed questions by the two groups was also similar, although managers were less confident about the achievability of the posed research questions and whether questions represented a knowledge gap. We conclude that improved collaboration and knowledge transfer among management and academic groups can be used to achieve similar objectives and enhance the knowledge-based management of MPAs. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Robertson G.,Australian Antarctic Division | Candy S.G.,Australian Antarctic Division | Hall S.,Australian Fisheries Management Authority
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Experiments were conducted on two new branch line weighting regimes designed to reduce the risk of seabird mortality in the Australian pelagic longline fishery. The experiments compared the sink rates and fish catch rates of the new regimes with that used by the fishing industry. Baited hooks on gear with a 120g lead weight 2m from the hook reduced the time to reach 2m, 5m and 8m depths by 16%, 58% and 70%, respectively, compared with industry standard gear with 60g at 3.5m. Baited hooks with 40g leads at the hook reduced the time taken to reach 2m, 5m and 8m depth by 33%, 28% and 25%, respectively. The reduction in time with a 60g lead at the hook to these depths was ~40%. There were no statistically detectable differences in catch rates of target and non-target fish between industry standard branch lines and branch lines with both 120g leads at 2m and those with 40g leads at the hook. The results contest the widely-accepted opinion that major branch line modifications, including weight at the hook, reduce fish catch. The regime with a 40g lead at or very close to (i.e. ≤ 0.5m) the hook has the most potential for adoption in fisheries due to: (i) improved crew safety; (ii) ease of port-based inspection for compliance purposes; (iii) reduced construction costs; (iv) reduced bin tangles; and (v) ease of deployment. Lead loss from shark bite-offs can be minimized by placing leads on short (≤ 0.5m) leaders. In areas of moderate to high risk to seabirds, or where the risks are unknown, the use of 60g leads either at or≤0.5m from the hook is encouraged. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

Prescott J.,Australian Fisheries Management Authority | Riwu J.,Office of Marine Affairs and Fisheries | Stacey N.,Charles Darwin University | Prasetyo A.,Agency for Marine and Fisheries Research and Development
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

Traditional fisheries stock assessment methods and fishery independent surveys are costly and time consuming exercises. However fishers trained in data collection and utilising other skills can reduce costs and improve fishery assessments and management. A data collection program was conducted by Australian and Indonesian scientists with small-scale Indonesian sea cucumber fishers to evaluate the approach and then capture its benefits. The data fishers recorded allowed for the first stock assessment of this trans-boundary fishery during its centuries-long existence at Scott Reef in north-western Australia. The program also included interviews with fishers capturing the social, economic, and demographic aspects of the fishery. Economic inputs to fishing were complemented by fishery revenue data voluntarily submitted when fishers returned to port and sold their catch. Catch data recorded by fishers demonstrated much higher abundances than estimates obtained using standard visual transect methods and accurately reflected the true catch composition. However, they also showed extreme rates of exploitation. Interviews revealed social and economic factors that would be important considerations if management interventions were made. The program’s approach and the time scientists spent on the fishers’ vessels were key ingredients to fishers’ participation and the utility of the results. Despite the program’s achievements the information generated has not led to improved management or had any direct benefits for the participants. Sustaining the program in the longer term requires that its value is better captured. © 2016 The Author(s) Source

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