Back to FISH Vol 28 2
PUBLISHED 1 Oct 2020

Abalone quota-setting workshop


Representatives from the Western Australian Government’s Industry Consultation Unit (ICU) travelled to Port Fairy, Victoria, to utilise the knowledge and experience from the Western Abalone Divers Association to develop an industry engagement process that will be implemented throughout the recovery period for the WA Area 3 Abalone Fishery. During the two-day workshop, representatives from the Victorian Fisheries Authority provided a seminar on their electronic catch-reporting system, which would be useful knowledge for those participating in the
recovery process.

Attendance at the workshop had dual immediate and long-term benefits. In the short-term, this project provides the basis for industry-led decision-making in the recovery of the WA Area 3 Abalone Fishery. Moreover, workshop attendance facilitated the transfer of knowledge between Abalone jurisdictions and industry stakeholders. This will yield long-term benefits in broadening the capacity of the ICU staff for any future consultation with industry.

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Angus Callander,

Seafood Directions 2019


The Australian seafood industry operates in a diverse and dynamic environment and, although the volume produced in Australia is small by world standards, the value and quality of our product and sustainability of our practices are globally recognised. For the Australian seafood industry to continue to be a world leader in seafood production and quality, there must be an opportunity to learn from each other and plan for the future. The role of the Seafood Directions conference is to provide a significant opportunity for fishers, managers, researchers, industry representatives and others who work in support of the industry to examine key contemporary and strategic issues, and develop blueprints that will ensure a sustainable, profitable and socially resilient seafood industry in Australia.

Over three days, from 9 to 11 October 2019, Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV) hosted the biennial Seafood Directions conference, which brought together hundreds of seafood enthusiasts from across the country and around the world. For the first time the conference was promoted and sold to the public, who joined those involved in the seafood industry and shared opinions, thoughts and suggestions, working together to create an industry workplan that will secure, promote and celebrate Australian seafood.

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Johnathon Davey,

Seismic survey catch impacts


This project set out to examine the impact of seismic testing on Danish seine catch rates of Tiger Flathead and Eastern School Whiting, and to consider the results with respect to how future marine seismic exploration will impact these fisheries. Multiple – Before After Control Impact (M-BACI) tests were carried out to test the hypothesis that the catch rates of the key target species are impacted by marine seismic surveys. Evidence was found for the negative impact of seismic surveys on whiting and flathead catches in the Danish Seine Fishery.

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Ian Knuckey,

Next-generation stock assessment


This report presents the results of the first application of close-kin mark-recapture (CKMR) using both parent-offspring pairs (POP) and half-sibling pairs (HSP). This application to Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) has been successful, providing a decadal time series of absolute abundance, total mortality and selectivity of adults. The method and the results have been reviewed and accepted by the Scientific Committee of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and CKMR is now adopted and funded by the CCSBT as a fisheries-independent method for monitoring the rebuilding of the spawner abundance. While the focus of this report is SBT, this extended method of CKMR (that is, POP+HSP), developed by CSIRO, is applicable to most teleosts (bony fishes) and will have wide applicability to Australian and international fisheries.

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Campbell Davies,

Valuing Victoria’s seafood industries


This project provides the first evaluation of the social and economic contributions of Victorian wild-catch professional fisheries and aquaculture to the communities in which the industries are located and to the entire state. This project was developed in consultation with the Victorian seafood industry, which identified the need to communicate the economic value of their industry, inclusive of the economic contribution of businesses supplying or being supplied by seafood producers. In addition, there was an evaluation of the social benefits of the industry to Victoria.

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Kate Barclay,

Saucer Scallop population dynamics


The results of this study provide crucial information needed to rebuild the east coast fishery between Yeppoon and K’gari (Fraser Island). To do so, fishery management needs to reduce the spatial intensity of fishing effort applied and ensure that enough spawning occurs each year to support the scallop population and fishery. This project undertook analyses to understand the role of overfishing and the environment on Saucer Scallops. The analyses indicated reduced numbers of spawning scallops. Historical levels of fishing and environmental influences such as from increased sea surface temperatures have amplified scallop mortality rates.

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Michael F. O’Neill,

Catch the drift leadership training


The project delivered three ‘Catch the drift’ (CTD) programs within the scheduled time frame, meeting the expected participant numbers. Forty-five people registered for the three programs from across a number of sectors.The CTD participants are well placed to ensure positive change occurs for industry and are all poised to take on new opportunities. Program evaluation found the participants and stakeholders consulted identified that the CTD achieved strong outcomes for participants and already there is evidence the industry is being rewarded with positive outcomes. CTD has delivered high-value outcomes for the Victorian seafood industry and participants, and met its objectives.


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Jill Briggs,

E-fish data capture and sharing


The e-fish project provides an in-depth analysis of the challenges experienced by fisheries agencies in data integration and sharing. The project, led by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in consultation with Australia’s state and territory fisheries jurisdictions, investigated a solution for integrating fisheries data across data collection platforms and securely sharing data with users. The outcome of the project was a recommendation of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) coupled with application programming interfaces (APIs) for data capture and sharing, which was demonstrated through proof-of-concept testing to be a fit-for-purpose solution for fisheries agencies.

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Andrew Powell,

Indigenous business development


The findings from 21 interviews were the base for developing the information presented on the Business Nous website, which aims to assist people with the essential elements required for setting up a fishing business. The key findings suggest that to manage or own an Indigenous fishing business, standard principles need to be followed and structures implemented. The Business Nous project has developed materials that will assist to people think through the essential elements when operating a fishing business. Materials developed can be found at and

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Jill Briggs,

Sentinel sensors


This study, undertaken by CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, examines the usefulness of molluscs as sentinels for environmental change using a novel biosensor. This project measured the vital signs of heart rate and behaviour in sentinel animals as they respond to multiple and interacting changes in the environment. Such complex monitoring is not possible with infrequent water sample analysis, and the lack of real-time sensors for all potential stressors creates the need for a world-first rapid biological response system.

The ‘animal-eye’ view allows direct measurements of how animals perceive and respond to their changing environment, thus removing the guesswork from trying to predict ecosystem health based solely on environmental monitoring data. This project adds value to existing environmental and ecosystem monitoring and modelling research, and provides the crucial missing piece in the puzzle – the biological response to environmental change. This project has proven that field-deployed biosensors can operate in harsh marine environments, without servicing or maintenance, far longer than typical water-quality sensors.

An outreach component of the project developed equipment and teaching modules for the CSIRO Marine Discovery Centre (MDC) to engage students with marine science. Staff at the MDC report that the biosensors were a highly valuable teaching resource.

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John McCulloch,

Wild-catch Barramundi workshop


History has shown that Barramundi catches have not been sufficient to allow the product to maintain its place in the domestic market. This has allowed farmed and imported fish to make inroads into what have traditionally been wild-catch markets. Catches have recently improved to a level close to sustainability but stakeholders have discovered that traditional markets are no longer available. This has caused a build-up of stock and therefore a reduction in revenue. The workshop identified the root causes of the market failure through consultation with key stakeholders. This report provides a detailed action plan to understand market needs in order to position wild-caught Barramundi for future success.

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Marshall Betzel,

Community Trust in Rural Industries



A collaboration of research and development corporations is seeking to develop a sector-wide understanding of community trust in rural industries, encompassing fishing and aquaculture, along with other primary industry sectors. The project acknowledges the significant power in approaching the issue as a collective of agriculture industries to develop a consolidated, consistent framework for community trust that may then be used in industry-specific ways. The project is working to identify key and material issues with industry stakeholders to effectively baseline community sentiment. The results from the first year of the project are available on the FRDC website.

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Jenny Medway,

Rural safety and health alliance


Work Health and Safety (WHS) Communication Guidelines aim to help research and development corporations (RDCs) and industry associations within the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector to communicate with flair and impact to improve WHS outcomes. These guidelines are designed for use by personnel involved in messaging about work, health and safety within the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.

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Jenny Medway,

Northern prawn water resources


This study provides the first descriptions of the estuarine prawn communities of the Mitchell, Gilbert and Flinders rivers in about 40 years. Each of the estuaries of these rivers supports high abundances of juvenile Banana Prawns that contribute strongly to the annual first-season Banana Prawn catch of the Northern Prawn Fishery.

While the impact of flow on the emigration of Banana Prawns previously has been described, this project has measured the spatial distribution of juvenile Banana Prawns in tributary habitats and main channel habitats in each river. Moreover, the project has related aspects of the population biology of juvenile Banana Prawns to the likely environmental conditions of each estuarine habitat. In doing so, the project has explored how affects on the seasonality and dimension of low flows due to water resource extraction might affect the Banana Prawn population, particularly emigration and eventual commercial catch.

Importantly, these prawn abundance and habitat extent estimates highlight the possible variation in an estuary’s contribution to the fishing sector as a dependent extractive industry.

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Rob Kenyon,

Gladstone Harbour fish health indicators


As the link between land and sea environments, estuaries are complex ecosystems vulnerable to human impacts, which directly and indirectly affect plants and animals, including fish. Fish are key biological indicators of environmental contamination as they are water breathers, are common in aquatic ecosystems, play a variety of important ecological roles, are readily identified and have high importance to the community. Various wastewater sources, of industrial, agricultural and domestic origins, can pollute downstream waterways. When fish are exposed to contaminated water, they are affected at the population level (numbers and diversity of fish species) down to biochemical impacts on single cells within individual fish. Fish health indicators range from relatively low to high cost
and complexity.

For this project, preference was given to testing and developing low to medium cost and complexity fish health indicators such as external measurements, pathological changes that can be seen with the naked eye, parasite count, the application of an existing health assessment index, and histopathological analysis (analysis by an aquatic veterinarian of tissue condition using a microscope). Ultimately, the results of this project will be considered for incorporation into the Gladstone Harbour Report Card, providing stakeholders and the community with accessible information about the condition of Gladstone Harbour, with potential for application to other Northern Australian ports and estuaries.

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Nicole Flint,

Fresh versus frozen


There is a strong negative perception of frozen fish amongst consumers, with many considering that frozen product is of inferior quality compared to ‘fresh’ (chilled) fish. The resistance to purchasing frozen fish continues, despite modern freezing technology and practices resulting in frozen product that remains as premium quality for longer than chilled fish.

The research described in this report was driven by the FRDC in an endeavour to establish whether there was a discernible difference between fresh and frozen product of the same species. Two evaluation methods were used: a Chefs’ Table focus group method and an experienced seafood panel assessment by difference testing.

Both methods were used to evaluate sashimi and cooked formats of the fish samples.

Using difference-testing methodology, the seafood panellists confirmed the perception of frozen fish being indiscernible from fresh fish. The opportunities and benefits of reduced reliance on fresh fish supply were raised and discussed in terms of flexibility and stability for menu design, reduction of wastage and better supply logistics.

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Peter Horvat,

Sawfish bycatch mitigation



This project tests the effect of electric fields on sawfish behaviour, to determine if a strong electric field can overwhelm their electrosensory system and dissuade them from approaching its source or elicit a fleeing behaviour. While sawfish clearly sensed and reacted to all electric fields tested, none of the waveforms used could repel from distances likely to be sufficient to deter sawfish from entering trawl nets. This means the available devices that produce electric fields are unlikely to be useful to reduce sawfish bycatch in prawn trawlers.
More information: Charlie Huveneers,

Evaluate Deckhand investment readiness


The global fishing industry predominately uses paper to record mandatory and other data about fishing. An estimated 80 per cent of fishing vessels are small (less than 12 metres) and are not suited for adopting desktop technology for data management. Fisheries management and research agencies globally are attempting to move to digital reporting of mandatory information. Real Time Data Pty Ltd has developed a tablet-based platform, called Deckhand, which addresses these industry problems with global export potential.

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Tom S. Robinson,