Project number: 2007-033
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $427,635.00
Principal Investigator: Jenny Ovenden
Organisation: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries EcoScience Precinct
Project start/end date: 29 Sep 2007 - 30 Jun 2010


This projects aims to introduce new aging methodology to fisheries science. It will be particularly relevant to (1) invertebrate fisheries where there is no straightforward method of measuring individual growth rates, (2) teleost fisheries where it may augment otolith aging methods, and (3) species of high conservation status where the animal cannot be sacrificed.
Accurately aging and evaluating fish populations is important in the FRDC Research and Development Plan (2005-2010) under strategy challenge #1 'Natural Resource Sustainability'. The Queensland Fishing Industry Research Advisory Committee and the NT Fisheries Advisory Board regard the development of innovative methods for stock assessment as an important component of their research and development strategy.

Improving the accuracy of fisheries stock assessments is an important R&D priority for both commercial and recreational fisheries. For example, it is essential that reliable estimates of growth rate in spanner crabs are produced because age at recruitment is critical to the successful development of age-based stock assessment models. By developing telomeric aging technology, we are likely to see an increase in the speed, accuracy and certainty of aging estimates over current methodologies.

This project was also designed around state and national government R&D plans. Queensland's Research and Development Priorities include #1 'Enabling Technologies' which specifies the use of biotechnology to improve the sustainability and economic viability of regional and rural communities (1.2). Priority #2 is 'Environmentally Sustainable Queensland', whose goals include support for research that facilitates the ecologically sustainable development of coast zones. The Federal Government's National Research priority goals include the sustainable use of Australia's biodiversity (5.0) that promotes the more comprehensive understanding of natural systems.


1. To evaluate a variety of laboratory methods for estimating telomere length
2. Taking a staged approach to species selection, the objective is to characterize the relationship between age and telomere length in a species that is most likely to yield positive results.
3. If objective 2 is achieved, the project will characterize the relationship between age and telomere length in other species and to test the robustness of the relationships to external variables.
4. To evaluate the usefulness of the relationship between age and telomere length for selected species in terms of the requirements for fisheries stock assessment.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9808178-9-8
Author: Jenny Ovenden

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University of Newcastle