The FRDC Review of Fisheries Habitats stated that “we must know where and what must be conserved for sustainability of fisheries and mariculture, before we determine why and how to do it”. At present key uncertainties exist concerning both the relative values of fisheries habitats and the effects of human disturbances at both regional and local scales. As a result, the FRDC Review found that strategic R&D is needed to overcome the poor ability to predict and manage such disturbances. Specifically, the collection, interrogation and extension of new and existing fisheries and habitat data at scales useful to management are required.
While it is generally known which habitats fish are found in association with, the critical factors which govern fish-habitat usage are poorly understood. In the absence of knowledge about why fish are utilising specific habitats, techniques are required to provide managers with information about the relative importance of different habitats and an ability to predict the impact of different pressures on these habitats. A Habitat Suitability Modelling approach is an effective means that can be employed to enable fisheries managers to identify the spatial component of fish-habitat links and make informed decisions on the management of habitats.