Project number: 2013-018
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $44,800.00
Principal Investigator: Ruth H. Thurstan
Organisation: University of Queensland (UQ)
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2013 - 22 Dec 2013


It is acknowledged that there is a lack of information on past fisheries (i.e. catch rates, fishing effort, proportion of recorded landings) throughout Queensland prior to the start of individual logbook records in 1988 (Halliday and Robins 2007). Yet information prior to this period is critical for successful management, as longer-term perspectives provide data that can help reduce uncertainty associated with projected historical catch levels (Campbell et al. 2009). Long-term data also informs past fishery states, thus equipping managers, stock assessment modellers and the fishing industry with knowledge of historical fishery trends. This can then be used to facilitate informed discussion of appropriate management methods into the future.

During a review of the 2008 Queensland snapper stock assessment, Francis (2009) called for consultation of ‘knowledgeable people’ in order to reconstruct past catch histories, thereby improving estimates for future stock assessments. We aim to fill this gap in research for two fish species that are of particular economic, social and cultural importance to Queensland, pink snapper (Pagrus auratus) and Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson), through the collation and synthesis of commercial and recreational fisher knowledge.

Our project has broad application to the FRDC’s Research Plan, as it provides a long-term view of the use and management of aquatic resources. It applies to the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy, as it will gather knowledge that can inform environmentally sustainable fishing through determining past changes to catch rates, locations fished and relative fishing effort. In addition, perceptions of changes to fisheries and the broader ecosystem as a result of non-fishery drivers, i.e. coastal development, resource management measures and social drivers of change, will be gathered. Our proposed research will focus upon commercial and recreational fishers, thus incorporating the two major sectors involved in wild-catch fisheries.


1. • To reconstruct relative changes in abundance and distribution of pink snapper (Pagrus auratus) and Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson), using commercial and recreational fishers’ testimony and historical data.
2. • ‘To use fishers’ data to expand our temporal scope of knowledge by providing robust historical data, thereby reducing uncertainty in past exploitation rates and making information available for potential use in future management decisions.’
3. • To determine the impact of evolving fishing technologies, fishing effort and changing management regimes upon fish catches and abundance over time.
4. • To compare perceptions of change between commercial and recreational groups, and identify common areas/species of concern held by both groups.

Related research


National Snapper Workshop - Rebuilding our iconic Snapper stocks

1. To identify key issues and challenges for Snapper, review Snapper research, and critique jurisdictional management arrangements.
Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)