Project number: 2005-306
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $20,000.00
Principal Investigator: Michael Phelan
Organisation: Australian Society For Fish Biology Inc
Project start/end date: 29 Jun 2006 - 10 Nov 2008


It is timely that research and management agencies across Australia review the way aquatic resources are monitored. Recent changes to the way we use and manage our aquatic resources has changed the way we need to monitor fish stocks and the aquatic ecosystems. For example, while monitoring work undertaken in Australia has traditionally focused on the impacts of commercial fishing, there has been a widening deficit of monitoring work designed specifically to study the impacts of the increasingly influential recreational and indigenous fishing sectors. There also exists a pressing need to plan the best way forward to meet future ecological monitoring needs. For example, the Australian Government’s reporting requirements for ecological sustainable development has introduced a new emphasis on monitoring broader population and ecosystem changes, something that fishery agencies across Australia have hitherto rarely addressed.

Acknowledging the importance of: 1. Focusing the workshop on a topic of great importance and relevance across Australia, and 2. Ensuring the current topic builds on the previous year’s topic (ESD), the NT Fisheries Group proposes the adoption of the theme ‘Monitoring Fish Stocks and Aquatic Ecosystems’ for the 2005 ASFB workshop.

The 2005 ASFB workshop provides an excellent and timely opportunity to hold an international barramundi workshop. The Barramundi Fishery is considered the icon species of recreational fishing across northern Australia and also supports a valuable commercial fishery. The 2005 International Barramundi Workshop will revisit the outcomes from the 1986 International ACIAR Barramundi Workshop and will further explore current and future issues affecting the barramundi resource. This workshop will incorporate several of the ASFB Symposium's keynote speakers and will be open to all researchers and managers.


1. To conduct the ASFB 2005 workshop as the "National Symposium on Monitoring Fish, Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems".
2. To provide a forum for the collaborative development of agreed monitoring strategies.
3. To present and document leading edge fisheries research and management in a peer-reviewed publication.
4. To conduct the 2005 International Barramundi Workshop
5. To present current and future issues related to the barramundi resource in a peer-reviewed publication.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9804011-2-7
Author: Michael Phelan
Final Report • 2009-10-30


The 2005 ASFB Workshop was hosted by the Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines in Darwin on 11-12 July 2005. The workshop explored the theme ‘Monitoring Fish Stocks and Aquatic Ecosystems’. The event attracted 138 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Africa and North America. In the days that followed the workshop, the Department also hosted the annual ASFB Conference. Combined, the ASFB Workshop and Conference attracted a total of 206 delegates. These ASFB events were held in conjunction with the Australian Marine Science Association Conference.

Hosting the 2005 ASFB Workshop and Conference in Darwin provided a timely opportunity to also host an international barramundi workshop. The 2005 International Barramundi Workshop revisited the outcomes from the 1986 International ACIAR Barramundi Workshop and further explored current and future issues affecting the barramundi resource. The workshop incorporated several of the ASFB Symposium's keynote speakers and was open to all researchers and managers.

There was a great response to the call for papers for the above three events. For the final program we had close to 200 session presenters. 

Keywords: Darwin, ASFB Workshop, Barramundi, Monitoring, Fish Stocks, Aquatic Ecosystems

Project products

Guide • 1.35 MB
2005-306 ASFB 2005 proceedings.pdf


The sustainable management of fish stocks and aquatic ecosystems is intrinsically dependent on effective monitoring. Reflecting the importance of monitoring, management agencies across Australia employ numerous programs to detect and profile change in aquatic environments. These monitoring programs are utilised to underpin and justify management decisions and funding allocations. It is therefore critical that the information they produce is as accurate as possible.

The aim of producing ‘A Guide to Monitoring Fish Stocks and Aquatic Ecosystems’ is to enhance the way we utilise monitoring programs in Australia. This guide was developed to assist scientists, students and volunteers in selecting appropriate monitoring methods and protocols. It is hoped that this guide will stimulate interest in new ideas and concepts, and will serve as a useful reference for anyone currently involved in the process of implementing a monitoring program.

The development of this guide capitalised on the congregation of almost 150 scientists, managers, students and stakeholder representatives who gathered in Darwin during July 2005 for a two-day workshop on ‘Monitoring Fish Stocks and Aquatic Ecosystems’.  Leaders in the field of monitoring, participants in long-term and short-term monitoring programs, and the end users of monitoring data, gathered to exchange information on current and future techniques. This document conveys that information.

This guide opens with an ‘Introduction to Monitoring Fish Stocks and Aquatic Ecosystems’. The paper is followed by an insightful discussion of the ‘Essential Concepts of Effective Monitoring’. The paper was produced by James Scandol, the elected convenor of the ‘ASFB Monitoring Committee’ formed at the conclusion of the workshop. The final introductory paper ‘Monitoring Fish Stocks and Aquatic Ecosystems: Guidelines for Consideration’ was produced by the ASFB Monitoring Committee.

Following this are papers by the workshop’s international keynote speakers, Ron Taylor and Oliva Mkumbo, which provide an insight into methods and progress of key monitoring programs currently undertaken in North America and Africa. A series of papers follow, each presented by delegates who participated in the monitoring workshop. The study areas and topics they cover are far-reaching and diverse. The abstracts of all presentations at the workshop are also provided, along with the contact details of each author.

While this document is not intended to be a complete, one-stop reference to monitoring fish stocks and aquatic environments, I hope you will find it thorough and diverse enough to provoke new thoughts and generate greater understanding. A series of comprehensive monitoring manuals already exist, covering almost every type of aquatic habitat. I strongly encourage you to refer to them. A selection of these manuals is listed in the appendices. Other excellent sources of information do exist and will undoubtedly continue to grow as we develop new and improved methods for monitoring.

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