Back to FISH Vol 28 3
PUBLISHED 1 Dec 2020

Funding habitat restoration

The Australian Government will invest $8 million over four years on projects to help restore the health and functionality of coastal and estuarine fisheries habitats.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud has announced 28 projects across the country that will receive funding through the Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program.

Projects are spread across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australian and Tasmania, with a particular focus on recreational fisheries.

This funding will see Regional Land Partnership providers, which include Oceanwatch, join with recreational fishing groups as partners in efforts to directly improve fish habitats.

Together, they will work on projects that include oyster reef restoration, riverbank stabilisation, fish passages, fish-friendly boat moorings, seagrass and saltmash restoration and other riparian vegetation initiatives to restore biodiversity in marine and estuarine areas.

Fishers help track habitat water quality

Monitoring and responding to changes in water quality is the focus of a new fisheries habitat initiative supported by commercial and recreational fishers in the New South Wales Richmond River region.

Each year, commercial fishers from Ballina donate the proceeds from the annual ‘mullet run’ – when fish migrate from the Richmond estuary to breed at sea – to a local charity.

With funds from the sale of this catch, they have donated a state-of-the-art water quality monitoring device to the local chapter of Australia’s fishing conservation charity, OzFish Unlimited.

The water quality meter provides real-time feedback on dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, pH and a number of other statistics related to water health and their respective changes over time.

It will ensure any changes in water and environment will be quickly identified, helping OzFish to better understand and manage these changing conditions as part of its fish habitat restoration projects within the Richmond River.

The aim is to improve the overall health and long-term productivity of the river and its fisheries.

Research call

The FRDC has opened a competitive call for research projects to address several of the priorities identified in its Research and Development Plan 2020–2025.

Expressions of interest included four fast-track projects, with a deadline for applications of 6 December 2020 and a research delivery date of June 2021. There are also five longer-term projects, with applications closing on 20 January 2020 and no set deadline for project completion.

Projects – deadline 6 December 2020:

  • Quantifying the inter-sectoral values within and among Indigenous, commercial and recreation sectors;
  • The circular economy in fishing and aquaculture;
  • An audit of plastic use in the fishing and aquaculture sectors; and
  • Energy use and carbon audit in fishing and aquaculture.

Projects – deadline 20 January 2021:

  • Fisheries abundance estimation toolbox;
  • Resolving uncertainty on abundance for Mangrove Jack, Silver Trevally, Giant Spider Crab, Ocean Jacket and Giant Crab stocks;
  • Mitigating interactions between longline tuna fishers and protected species;
  • Investigating the reopening of closed, shared-access fisheries; and
  • Evaluation of fisheries enhancement initiatives.

Full details of the research wanted, as well as the application process, are available here.

The FRDC is changing the way it calls for and commissions research. To stay in the loop, subscribe to the FRDC’s updates click here.

Regional approach for leadership program

The FRDC has sponsored two participants in the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP), now underway. Lukina Lukin (right) of Dinko Tuna in Port Lincoln, South Australia, and Hayley Abbott (below) of Narooma Seafood Direct in Narooma, New South Wales, are members of the 27th ARLP course, which began in November 2020.

Responding to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns, the ARLP has this year dispersed its face-to-face sessions across the country, using regional rather than national gatherings and engaging with local alumni.

The ARLP is a 15-month dynamic experiential learning program focused on the development of leadership for individuals and collectives who are contributing to the future prosperity of rural and regional Australia. Applications for the 28th ARLP program have closed. Applications for the 29th program will open in July 2021.