The proposed project addresses the following needs:
(1). To gather biological information on priority fish species to fill gaps identified by FRDC Project 92/145 and FRDC Project 95/049. Currently the commercial catch and effort logbooks record only common name categories of catch by daily weight (kg/day or kg/hour). Information on true species composition, number caught, and population structure (length frequency) can only be gathered by expensive fishery independent sampling or a more cost-effective observer program. This basic knowledge is critical to any effective management of complex multi-species tropical fisheries.
(2). To evaluate the effort reduction initiatives of the Gulf Inshore Fishery Management Plan (1999) in terms of their effect on stock dynamics, as a test-bed for future Management Plans for tropical inshore fisheries, in particular the Queensland Tropical East coast Inshore Fishery Management Plan.
(3). To Involve commercial fishers in the collection and ownership of research data that will be used in the management of their fishery.
And provides a unique opportunity to:
(1). Apply and test the concept of “adaptive management” (Walters, 1986) where management is seen as an adaptive process, learning from the response of the fishery to controlled changes to management regimens. The lessons learned from the Gulf Inshore Fishery Management Plan (1999) can be applied to Queensland Tropical East coast Inshore Fishery Management Plan as it is developed; if the effects of the Gulf plan are properly documented.
(2). TRAP (FRDC 95/049I) has collated and validated historic and current catch/effort data for the Gulf, together with the available recreational and research data, to give a 16 year time-series of population dynamics of the target species of the inshore fishery. Building on these population trajectories and on the population dynamics models developed as part of TRAP (Phase I), the logical extension to the program is to use these tools to track the effects of proposed changes to management.