Project number: 2004-066
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $514,126.61
Principal Investigator: Caleb Gardner
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 28 Oct 2003 - 30 Aug 2007


The need for this project was identified by fishery managers and industry and addresses high priority strategic research areas identified by both state and national fisheries organisations. It is research that targets a high priority need across Australian fisheries: understanding the effects of fishing activities on fish and their ecosystems. The need for research is compounded in shelf-break habitats due to: (a) scarcity of basic information about shelf break habitats, (b) slow growth of many species in this region implying less resilience to impacts, (c) interaction effects between different sectors that may compound impacts.

The research need on addressing interaction between different sectors will be specifically addressed here in relation to the interaction between trawl and crab trapping sectors. This interaction between different fishing sectors is not unusual and is likely to be repeated in the future – work conducted here will assist in providing a template for resolution.

Understanding shelf-break habitat for sustainable management of fisheries with spatial overlap was identified as the number 1 research priority for Tasmanian crustacean research by both DPIWE and representatives of the Tasmanian crustacean fishing industry at the Tasmanian Crustacean Research Advisory Group.

The project focus is also consistent with strategies developed by the Commonwealth agencies involved in management of industries based around the shelf-break: the Commonwealth Government and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia (AFFA). It is targeted to the FRDC program of Natural Resource Sustainability through the strategies of “Interactions between fish and their ecosystems” and “Effects of fishing activities on fish and their ecosystems”.


1. Define and map key habitats on the shelf edge (~80-180 fm) at key locations around Tasmania where fisheries using different gear types interact.
2. Evaluate their resistance and resilience to impact from fishing gears based using the semi-quantitative 'Ecological Risk Assessment' framework
3. Detail the distribution of exploited shelf-edge species in relation to habitat features
4. Evaluate ecosystem links within habitats based on trophic, temperature and current-flow data
5. Evaluate using video to obtain stock assessment information such as abundance, sex ratio, condition and size of target species, primarily the giant crab

Final report

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