Project number: 2019-013
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $257,459.05
Principal Investigator: Jerzy A. Filar
Organisation: University of Queensland (UQ)
Project start/end date: 19 Nov 2019 - 30 May 2021


A better understanding of the impacts of environmental drivers on the population dynamics and abundance of key fishery species can inform flexible management decisions that pre-empt both risks of overfishing under adverse environmental conditions and opportunities for increased harvest under favourable conditions. This is increasingly important as shifting environmental dynamics drive geographical shifts in fish stocks.

This project will identify environmental variables influencing the abundance of three priority fishery species, quantify those relationships to enhance their stock assessment models, and develop a forward projection tool to inform adaptive management of each fishery. Target species - Spanner Crabs, Snapper and Pearl Perch – were selected based on key interest to management of fisheries in Queensland and NSW. Some associations between these species and certain abiotic environmental factors are already known, but there is yet to be a rigorous and comprehensive approach to this work, with the explicit goal of incorporating abiotic influences into Queensland and NSW stock assessments.

The project has three key objectives: (1) Find indices of association between measures of abundance and key environmental drivers; (2) Use these indices to enhance the existing stock assessment model for each species; and (3) Enable forecasting of environmentally driven fluctuations in targeted species’ abundance, including enhancing Management Strategy Evaluations (MSEs).

In particular, environmental correlates will be valuable to fisheries managers by: (a) reducing the uncertainty in biomass estimates, (b) explaining fluctuations in abundance, and (c) characterising what is a “bad year” for each species. Such information can be incorporated into MSEs.

The “Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027” identifies several challenges to fulfilling its mission of ensuring the sustainability of fisheries and the economic viability of fishing sectors. The first of these is “gaps in monitoring and research, which limit the ability to make timely, evidence-based decisions”. This project will close some of these gaps and assist in formulating measures for promoting stock recovery and adaptive management.


1. Find indices of association between measures of abundance and environmental drivers.
2. Improve stock assessment models, for targeted species, by incorporating environmental drivers.
3. Enable forecasting of environmentally driven fluctuations in species’ abundance, including enhancing Management Strategy Evaluations for targeted species with the help of a rapid adaptive projections tool (RAPT).

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)