Project number: 1998-225
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $419,638.24
Principal Investigator: Ib Svane
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 28 Jun 1998 - 21 May 2004


*Public perceptions
Commercial fisheries, in particular prawn fisheries, conjour negative perceptions of environmental impact by the general community. This stems as much from the negative imagery of capture of species of intrinsic public e.g. dolphins, as it does from notions that commercial fisheries irreversibly deplete stocks.

*Adverse consumer response
Public perceptions have been shown to translate into adverse consumer response. In addition, domestic perception and political pressure threatens the actual conduct of fisheries rather than the market for the product. There is a clear need to better inform the Australian public on the environmental performance of commercial fisheries by identifying environmental impacts and promoting responsible work practices.

*Improved promotion of commercial fishing
The proposal addresses a major need for more effective promotion of commercial fisheries linked to domestic perceptions and market opportunities.

*The ecosytem effects of fishing need to be understood.
Most of Australia's major fisheries are undertaken in nearshore habitats yet relatively little is known of the effects of fishing on coastal ecosystems. This project seeks to address this question for a major coastal fishery. The objectives of the project are consistent with the aims of modern fisheries management and have been identified as an information need by FRDC.


1. To determine which scavengers exploit material from prawn trawlers.
2. To determine the relative contribution this material makes to their diet and the population level consequences of prawn by-catch discarding for scavenger species.
3. To determine the population level consequences of prawn by-catch for the by-catch species themselves.
4. To quantify the rates and relative importance of nutrient regeneration by natural processes (winds and currents) and by prawn trawling activities in Spencer Gulf.
5. To integrate the information that has been collected from both this study and previous work to develop a trophodynamic model that quantitatively describes the influence of prawn trawling in a coastal ecosystem.
6. To complete a comprehensive written assessment of the ecological impact of prawn trawling in Spencer Gulf, consistent with the need to adopt principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development.
7. To identify and promote environmentally favourable work practices.

Final report

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