Project number: 2013-046
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $300,000.00
Principal Investigator: Marcus Sheaves
Organisation: James Cook University (JCU)
Project start/end date: 31 Dec 2013 - 8 Jun 2016


The health and longevity of fisheries depend on access critical habitats appropriate to each particular life-history stage. While many key fisheries habitats are under threat from rapidly increasing coastal development, management of those habitats is severely hampered by very poor understanding of these life history-stage habitat requirements. This not only prevents effective management of critical fisheries resources but hampers the ability to direct development to enhance, rather than degrade fisheries value. At the moment many management and offsets actions are unsatisfactory to all users because they are based on incomplete understanding of fish-habitat relationships. This means actions and offsets rarely product tangible gains in ecosystem health or biodiversity, frustrating fishers, environmentalists, developers and governments alike. Not only can carefully designed developments provide new areas of critical habitat to replace habitats damaged in the past, but the opportunity exists for directing mandatory offsets from new coastal developments towards beneficial fisheries outcomes. This would provide the basis for greatly improved management of coastal fisheries habitats and would help to direct effective offset strategies, assist in directing fisheries friendly infrastructure design, and allow the development of metrics appropriate to the definitive measurement of specific fisheries outcomes from particular offset actions. Consequently, improved understanding of stage-specific habitat requirements of fisheries species is central to both the long-term health of fish stocks and fisheries productivity, and the effective management of coastal development to enhance fisheries values.


1. Develop detailed models of the life history stage-specific habitat utilisation of key coastal and estuarine fisheries species at of the most detailed mensurative level possible (quantitative or semi-quantitative)
2. Formalise and consolidate fisher knowledge on fish-habitat relationships into an organised fish-habitat understanding,
3. Develop estimates of the relative contributions of different juvenile habitats to adult populations, and estimates of the relative value per unit area of alternative stage-specific habitats to fisheries stocks
4. Quantify the key resources provided by critical habitats over life histories
5. Develop specific, achievable measures of fisheries benefits stemming from repair, revitalisation and supplementation work
6. Provide information a-e in forms that can inform fisheries habitat management and repair, and value-add to habitat mapping

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9925222-1-6
Author: Marcus Sheaves

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