Project number: 2004-013
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $589,164.00
Principal Investigator: Stewart Frusher
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 8 Jan 2005 - 29 Sep 2008


This project is the first of a larger strategic focus that moves away from species based management towards integrated ecosystem management. It will give impetus to:

a) Understanding the implications of management of one resource on another,
b) Measuring the impacts of increased utilisation of the marine ecosystem on the health of all components of the ecosystem (eg. commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, aquaculture),
c) Establishing baseline data that can be used to monitor environmental change (e.g. introduced pests, global warming),
d) Meeting the increasing need of consumers for environmental accreditation (e.g. MSC, EA). This is particularly the case for diversification of future markets.

This project addresses several aspects of Australia’s Marine Science and Technology Plan.
Program 1 - Understanding the Marine Ecosystem
Objective 6: To understand the biological processes in Australia’s oceans
Objective 7: To understand the dynamics of Australia’s marine habitats and ecosystems
Program 2 - Using and Caring for the Marine Environment
Objective 1: To ensure the maintenance of healthy and properly functioning ecosystems through the development and application of effective monitoring and assessment procedures and sustainable management practices
Objective 6: To improve the productivity and sustainablilty of wild harvest fisheries, and to improve understanding of the relationship between fished stocks and the ecosystems that support them.

The project addresses FRDC's strategic vision to move towards assessment and management of Australia’s fisheries at the ecosystem rather than single species level. A concern in embracing integrated multi-species or ecosystem-based management is the breadth of ecosystem issues that can be tackled. By focusing on specific issues identified by our stakeholders this project has the potential to demonstrate the benefits of multi-species management in two of SE Australia’s most valuable fisheries, and the need for this approach to be adopted as the future management framework.

The need to develop and apply new methods is core to improving our understanding of marine ecosystems. This project encompasses this need with the use of infra-red and low light video technology, acoustic telemetry and DNA dietary studies, all of which represent frontier technologies.

At the TasFRAB Wildfish Strategic Planning Workshop held in 2003 to develop Tasmania’s 2004 – 2009 Strategic Fisheries Plan, both Industry and Government recognised that a healthy and productive reef ecosystem is essential for maximising the social, economic and aesthetic returns to rural coastal populations in Tasmania.

At the Southern Fisheries Management Workshop (SFMW) held in November 2003, managers highlighted three separate approaches that needed to be addressed in pursuing ecosystem based management. These were a systems approach that described a management unit and incorporated all inputs into the system (e.g. Westernport Bay and associated catchments, Great Australian Bight), a risk assessment approach and an understanding of processes that drive systems. TAFI's approach that focuses on understanding process based on observed patterns was endorsed by the SFMW. It was noted that TAFI was in the best position to undertake this research in a cost effective manner as this approach suited post-graduate studies.


1. To determine the impact of rock lobster fishing on abalone population dynamics
2. To evaluate the effect of abalone fishing on the community structure of the reef
3. To understand rock lobster predator-prey relationships, particularly in relation to changes that may have occurred as a consequence of fishing

Final report

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