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marks have been identified in ossicles from several key Australian species – e.g. western rock lobster (de Lestang, unpublished data), redclaw crayfish and mud crab (Leland et al., 2011; Leland et al., in prep).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.