The ability of fisheries managers to control for sustainable harvest and reduce risks of fisheries overexploitation depends largely on an understanding of biological stock structure and recruitment dynamics. This information is critical for understanding the resilience of individual fishing stocks to fishing pressure and environmental disturbance, and the potential for stock replenishment through natural recruitment processes. At present this information is lacking for Australian giant crab (P. gigas) and giant spider crab (L. gaimardii) fisheries.
New opportunities have emerged that greatly enhance our ability to characterise patterns of biological stock structure in fine detail. Modern genomic technologies now allow for rapid and cost-effective assessments of genome wide variation within and between natural populations, allowing for spatial patterns of genetic structure to be characterised with unprecedented sensitivity. Additionally, advances in modelling capabilities are now allowing the unique integration of biological and physical oceanographic data to develop high-resolution models of larval dispersal in complex marine environments. Combining these new tools with traditional methods, such as stable isotopes and acoustic telemetry, provides a unique opportunity to undertake better assessments of biological stock structure and dynamics by accounting for both adult and juvenile dispersal stages.
Our team will leverage existing partnerships with industry stakeholders to undertake a comprehensive assessment of biological stock structure in the P. gigas and L. gaimardii fisheries. We proposed to adopt a multidisciplinary research program that will help to define the geographic boundaries of biological populations and the recruitment potential of individual fishing stocks. Outputs from this project will provide managers with a resource for establishing sustainable management programs in these fisheries that account for patterns of stock connectivity and the sensitivities of individual stocks to environmental disturbance and fishing pressure.