Project number: 2020-005
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $703,700.00
Principal Investigator: Sean Tracey
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 31 Dec 2020 - 29 May 2026


Sand Flathead account for well over half of the total catch (by numbers) taken by marine recreational fishers in Tasmania and represent the mainstay of Tasmania's recreational fishery. Furthermore, since the recreational catch of sand flathead is more than 20 times the commercial catch, trends in commercial catch and catch rates are of little value in inferring changes in stock status. This has meant that fishery independent or novel assessment methods are required. To date, IMAS has implemented a research program focused on sand flathead in the south-east of the state that provides a spatially restricted, perspective and semi-quantitative evaluation of stock condition. Given the significance of the species and a status of 'depleting' in the latest stock assessment report, there is a need to implement a more comprehensive stock monitoring approach throughout the state that can support the development of a spatially explicit quantitative stock assessment model. There is also a need to determine the appropriate spatial resolution to apply to the stock assessment model. As such, there is a need to understand the extent of adult movement and ontogenetic connectivity of regional sub-populations of sand flathead throughout Tasmania. In addition, by collation of biological data sets from historical studies and surveys conducted around Tasmania the extent and direction of potential changes in population size structures, and life history characteristics will be investigated. Where possible collated biological data will be used to assess spatial and temporal changes in life history characteristics to assess the implications of selective excessive fishing pressure and/or past and future climate change effects for this species.


1. Review and collate available biological and fishery data collected on sand flathead within Tasmanian waters
2. Design, implement and assess the effectiveness of fishery dependent and fishery independent biological sample collection techniques for sand flathead
3. Determine the spatial and temporal variability of key life history characteristics and population structures of sand flathead
4. Investigate movement and connectivity of sand flathead within Tasmania
5. Develop a quantitative region-age-sex structured fishery assessment model for sand flathead
6. Identify management scenarios for consideration

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