This research project was undertaken by a national collaboration of government and academic scientists representing key Australian crustacean fisheries
Budget expenditure: $279,927.16
Project Status:
Principal Investigator: Jesse Leland
Organisation: Southern Cross University (SCU) Lismore Campus
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2014 - 22 Jul 2016
Crustacean Fisheries
Giant Crab
Western Rock Lobster
Eastern Rock Lobster
Southern Rock Lobster
Mud Crabs


Australia’s crustacean fisheries generate over a billion dollars annually. Age information is necessary for calculating growth, mortality, recruitment and productivity, and is a critical component for any sustainable fisheries management plan. Until recently, direct age determination was considered impossible for crustaceans and only indirect methods existed (e.g. size frequency distributions). However, recent publications (Leland et al., 2011; Kilada et al., 2012) have rejected this paradigm and demonstrated that direct age determination of crustaceans is possible. Clear growth marks have been identified in ossicles from several key Australian species – e.g. western rock lobster (de Lestang, unpublished data), redclaw crayfish and mud crab (Leland et al., 2011; Leland et al., in prep). This project is needed to produce validated ages for mostly long-lived slow-growing species, across their full size range and in climatic regions other than the cool temperate conditions assessed previously. Validated age information will facilitate the sustainable management of Australia’s crustacean fisheries.

This project aligns with three FRDC Strategic Priority Areas: Theme 4 (Ecologically sustainable development), Theme 13 (Innovation skills) and Theme 14 (Extension and Adoption). All FRDC stakeholders will benefit by: i) ensuring the sustainable management of Australia’s relevant crustacean fisheries (e.g. through improved growth modelling and age-based stock assessments), ii) improving knowledge of key biological attributes (i.e. age and growth), iii) developing a national network of Australian fisheries and academic scientists capable of applying innovative crustacean age validation methods, iv) achieving change in crustacean fisheries management, while v) improving social license and vi) reducing uncertainty.


1. to validate growth mark periodicity for western and eastern rock lobsters and crystal crab by vital staining and long-term grow-out
2. to determine absolute age and longevity for western, southern, eastern and ornate rock lobsters, Tasmanian giant, crystal and mud crabs -- validated with laser ablation induction-coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (LA-ICPMS)
3. to assess the relationship between estimated age and size and the appropriateness of existing growth models for western and eastern rock lobster
4. to establish a network of Australian government and academic fisheries researchers who can consistently apply direct ageing methods to decapod crustaceans

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