Project number: 2002-059
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $1,026,442.00
Principal Investigator: Charles A. Gray
Organisation: NSW Department of Primary Industries
Project start/end date: 19 Oct 2002 - 9 Sep 2008


The above Background explains why it is necessary to develop a standardized fishery-independent sampling strategy to provide estimates of relative abundances and demographies of populations of fish in the estuaries of NSW which will be used in conjunction with existing and any new sources of fishery-dependent data (from commercial and recreational fisheries). Before these surveys can be implemented, however, it is necessary to do several pieces of very important research.

Firstly, the correct sampling tools and methods need to be developed. Whilst we acknowledge that commercial and scientific fishing gears are available, these have been designed to capture very specific species and sizes of species. We need to modify these and other gears to develop new techniques that will sample wider size ranges and diversities of fish than is the case for commercial and recreational fisheries. Specifically, we need to determine the best suite of gears to use to catch as wide a size and species range of fishes as possible in as many different habitats as possible.

Secondly, once the best tools have been developed, appropriate spatial and temporal scales of sampling and units of replication need to be determined so that an ongoing survey design based on a rigorous sampling protocol can be implemented for the decades to come.


1. Develop scientific sampling tools to catch the widest possible size range and diversity of fish species in NSW’s estuaries.
2. Use the gears developed in objective 1 to do pilot studies to determine the most cost-effective, optimal number of replicates, sites, locations and habitats to be sampled in and among estuaries.
3. Use the results from objectives 1 and 2 to design the optimal sampling regime that will become the long-term, large-scale survey of the fish populations in NSW estuaries.

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