Project number: 2004-002
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $384,083.00
Principal Investigator: Colin Buxton
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 30 Aug 2004 - 30 Aug 2008


Liitle is known of the movement patterns of most commercial reef species, an aspect that is crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of spatial management and interpretation of local stock dynamics. By undertaking a broadly applicable movement study drawing on examples over an Australia wide scale and using model species representing differing life histories, we will address a key issue identified in several national strategic priorities (SCFA Research Priorites for Australian Fisheries and Aqauculture - Program 4). These priorities include understanding the ecosystem effects of fishing and the need to assess the merits and performance of spatial management. They were identified at the Aquatic Protected Areas R&D workshop (Cairns), and in a recent spatial management discussion paper by Smith et al. (2003).

In Tasmania, defining movements of commercial finfish species (e.g. banded morwong) between and within reefs, has been identified as an important research issue by the Scalefish RAG, and essential for understanding local stock dynamics and interpreting CPUE data. Current fishing practices target juvenile trumpeter species, and spatial ‘nursery area’ closures may be one option of ensuring a significant proportion of fish reach maturity before becoming vulnerable to the fishery.

In the Northern Territory the black jewfish is an important species for both commercial and recreational fisheries, yet it appears to be particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to a mix of aggregating behaviour and an increasing knowledge by fishers of the location of these aggregations. Understanding the nature of these aggregations and the threat posed by fishing has been identified as the number one priority for fisheries research and knowledge of fish movements with respect to these aggregations is an important component required for development of effective management plans.

Smith, D., Sainsbury, K., Buxton, C., Morris, L., Hough, D., Haddon, M. & Moore, M. 2003. Development of an R&D response to ecosystem based management: Spatioal management of fisheries and the role of MPAs. FRDC Final Report 2003/073. 51pp


1. To study the movement patterns of key reef associated fishes in Tasmania and the NT.
2. To link movement patterns with critical life history events and habitat utilisation.
3. To evaluate these results in the context of spatial management options for specific fisheries, including performance of closed areas.

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-86295-570-7
Author: Colin Buxton

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