Fishwise Community Grants - 2010 Funding Round

Post-settlement processes affecting commercial scallop recruitment in D'Entrecasteaux Channel

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $30,363.64
Start Date: 01 October 2010 End Date: 13 August 2014
Status: COMPLETED

Objective:

The aim of the study is to gain understanding about factors affecting recruitment of commercial scallops, focusing on processes occurring at or shortly after settlement.

Specific aims:

1. Role of habitat structure and sediment type on scallop densities.
2. Assess the relationships between dispersal and growth of recently settled scallops and site characteristics
3. Identify the main factors affecting survival of newly settled scallops.

Final Report
What did the project achieve?

Dive surveys were undertaken to examine the relationships between the distribution and abundance of three species of scallops - the Commercial Scallop, Queen Scallop, and Doughboy Scallop - and associated habitat characteristics. At the scale of kilometres, the pattern of distribution for the three co-occurring species was aggregated rather than random or uniform, and thus typical of scallop species.  Factors such as sediment type, habitat structural components and presence of predators were shown to influence distribution patterns, although the nature of these relationships differed markedly between species.  Commercial Scallops were associated with finer sediments, Queen Scallops with coarse grain sediments, whereas Doughboy Scallops had a less selective association with sediment type, possibly because the species can use byssal attachment on a wide range of substrates. The associations between habitat characteristics and distribution of each species of scallop were discussed in the context of behavioural characteristics and predation pressure. Predation is an important factor regulating distribution and abundance and habitat characteristics have been demonstrated in other studies to influence predation efficiency and predator-prey encounter rates.

Laboratory experiments were conducted to examine whether juvenile Commercial Scallops actively select for particular sediment types, thereby providing further insight into preferences for sediment characteristics and potential post-settlement dispersal.  Within the limitations of the experimental system, there was no evidence for active selection of sediment type.  The association of Commercial Scallops with fine sediments observed in field may thus be more related to relatively higher survival in fine sediments rather than an active behavioural choice or post-settlement movement. 

In a series of field-based experiments the impacts of predation mortality on recently settled Commercial Scallop spat was examined. An eight-fold reduction in scallop densities was observed within a three week period which, when considered in the light of concurrent predator exclusion experiments, confirmed that predation pressure acting during the first weeks after settlement represents a major factor influencing the subsequent success of a recruitment event contributing to the adult stock.  This means that good settlement is no guarantee of recruitment success.


Habitat complexity, specifically the density of the algae Hincksia sordida appear to offer a refuge from predation for juvenile scallops compared to spat that settled on bare sand.  Our study showed that most of the scallop losses could be attributed to species which crush scallops, such as toadfish, crabs and rays, rather than sea star predation (evidence of which is empty shells or clappers).  Our results also indicated growth was faster on sand substrate compared with algal mats, implying that recently settled scallops may be faced with a trade-off between growth and survival. 

The relationship between scallop size and probability of sea star predation was examined in laboratory experiments.  Results indicated that vulnerability to sea star predation was greater at smaller sizes and decreased with scallop size, supporting a size-refuge hypothesis. In addition, while the invasive northern Pacific sea star did not appear to pose a greater predation risk than the native eleven-arm sea star, it has the potential to contribute to the depletion of scallop populations especially when present in large numbers.



Click on image to download full report
Benefits

Probably the main benefit has been to highlight the importance of predation pressure, especially during the early post settlement phases, on subsequent recruitment success.   While management may not be able to directly influence this pressure, it reinforces the importance of maintaining spawning biomass at levels that at least provide a chance of achieving settlement at levels that will result in significant recruitment.  Related research undertaken by Tania Mendo as part of her PhD studies (thesis in under review) suggests that it may be more important to ensure that areas of high adult densities are maintained to promote spawning success – that is adults at low densities and spread over wide areas are likely to exhibit limited synchronicity in spawning, with reduced fertilisation success.  Future management of scallops in the Channel may need to consider how high density beds could be protected, or at least only lightly fished to maintain adult densities.  An alternative consideration would be to include a trigger to allow fishing based on the presence of defined recruitment pulses entering the population (ie sub-adult) in addition to triggers based on the presumed biomass of adult scallops.


Recreational Set-line Usage in Tasmania

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $5,070.00
Start Date: 01 May 2011 End Date: 26 April 2012
Status: COMPLETED
Objective:

The primary objectives are to:
  1. Assess the level of set-line usage in Tasmania (proportion of active licences) and types of activities undertaken.
  2. Describe fishing practices, target species, catch composition by activity (longline v dropline) and by season and region.
  3. Assess attitudes and awareness of key issues relating to the set-line fishery.
Final Report
What did the project achieve?

A recreational set-line licence was introduced in Tasmania for the first time for the 2009-10 licensing year, with over 3500 licences issued. Up to 30 hooks can be fished using setlines and the lines are generally configured as longlines to target shark or as droplines to target species such as blue-eye trevalla and striped trumpeter. Relatively little information is available about set-line usage in Tasmania, such as fishing practices, target species, catch rates, by-catch, seasonality and spatial patterns of the fishery.

Key findings were:
  • Current licence numbers indicate that there are potentially 3700 persons with an interest in this fishery, although only an estimated 2745 persons (73% of licence holders) fished with set-lines in the 12 months prior to July 2011.
  • Almost 1900 persons (about half of all licence holders) used longlines while just over 1000 persons (28% licence holders) used droplines. Very few fishers, less than 200 persons (5% licence holders) reported using both types of gear, suggesting that most fishers specialise in a particular set-line method.
  • Reliable catch and effort estimates were not feasible based on the survey method, however, it was evident that for most fishers set-line usage was an occasional activity (63% of active set-line fishers reported 5 or fewer days fished).
  • Set-line fishing is a seasonal activity, with fishers most active during the summer and autumn months and least active during winter.
  • Longlines are primarily used to target gummy shark, mainly off the north and east coasts, whereas droplines are primarily used to target blue eye trevalla or striped trumpeter, mostly off the east and south coasts.
  • Gummy shark along with other shark species and flathead dominate longline catches, with various sharks and rays as well as gurnards the main by-catch. The main dropline catch is blue eye trevalla and gemfish from the upper slope and striped trumpeter, jackass morwong and ocean perch from the shelf. Sharks and rays, ocean perch and cod represent the main by-catch of droplines.
  • Longlines are generally set for longer periods than droplines, with a small proportion of longlines set overnight.
  • Typically the full entitlement of 30 hooks is used for longlines whereas most dropline fishers use fewer hooks.
  • For the majority of active fishers, interactions with seabirds and marine mammals do not appear to be a major issue when using set-lines.
  • Overall there is general support and understanding of the regulations that relate to set-line fishing amongst licence holders.
Recreational Set Line Survey of Tasmania 2012
Click on image to download full report
Benefits

The primary benefits of this project include:
  • Improved understanding of the nature and scale of the set-line fishery.
  • Identification of potential issues that might require management and/or research attention prior to the next scalefish fishery review.
  • Improved understanding of the potential impacts of set-line fishing on target and non-target species.

Post-release survival of captured mako sharks: developing best-practice for catch and release game fishing

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $76,800.00
Start Date: 01 October 2011 End Date: 3 May 2016
Status: COMPLETED
Objective:

The current proposal (and the subsequent ARC Linkage proposal) seeks to work with recreational game fishers to determine the post-release survival rates of mako sharks and identify what environmental factors, gear and fishing behaviours produces the least stress and post-release mortality. We are requesting Fishwise Community Grant to partially support the Tasmanian component of a large National project to tag these sharks with the 'survival' tags and to examine the level of stress hormones in the blood of captured and released sharks.
  1. Determine post-release survival rates of mako sharks based on standard game fishing techniques.
  2. Correlate mortality rates with stress levels, gear type and fishing behaviour.
  3. Develop best practice fishing techniques to reduce stress levels and maximise post-release survival.

Final Report
What did the project achieve?

To date, 30 sharks have been tagged with sPAT tags.  All tags have had a 100% reporting rate.  Three sharks have succumbed to mortality indicating a 90% survival rate under these fishing conditions.

Thirteen blood samples have been taken to Canada and successfully analysed for stress factors as Mt Allison University and statistical analyses of these data have been completed.

A peer-review article detailing the tagging, stress and gear components has been accepted for publication in the journal 'Conservation Physiology'. The article can be found here: High survivorship after catch-and-release fishing suggests physiological resilience in the endothermic shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus).

This progress adequately addresses objectives 1 and 2 of the overall project.  Ultimately we found that long fight times do not significantly impact on mako shark survival, and that anglers may maximise the survival of released sharks by minimising physical damage to the animal.  Both through careful handling and the use of circle hooks which we found to significantly reduce foul hooking.

Objective 3 used results from objectives 1 and 2 to develop strategies to refine fishing techniques in subsequent seasons and therefore to mitigate impacts on the mako shark population.  As there was no relationship between fight time and survivorship, the strategies are very simple and don't require either an instrumental pamphlet or DVD for recreational fishers.  Instead, the strategies are simply to use circle hooks and cut off foul-hooked hooks rather than remove them, as damage from foul-hooking affects survivorship, unlike fight time.  This information will also be included in the DPIPWE recreational fishing guide, Fish App and TFGA's codes of practice, if possible.

Benefits

The project has demonstrated how recreational fishing techniques can induce a physiological stress response in mako sharks and how robust these sharks are to physiological perturbations associated with long angling events.

The research indicates that major causes of mortality in this species may be related to physical traumas more than physiological and that this can be mediated with gear choices.

The research will also show what motivates anglers to release sharks voluntarily and the types of attitudes people have towards catch and release shark fishing and sharks in general.  We hope that this will allow future management initiatives to better meet the needs of anglers whilst promoting sustainable fishing options.

Communications associated with the project have also improved awareness of Tasmania's recreational fisheries: direct engagement with anglers has improved community involvement in scientific research, and garnered interest in fisheries biology and conservation.  Whilst more formal communications publications such as magazine articles and media appearances have informed readers/viewers about the importance of this type of research and the political and biological considerations associated with sport fishing of this species.

Download the full report

Understanding Interactions and Competition over Rock Lobster Resource Access, Tasman Peninsula

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $20,200.00
Start Date: 01 November 2011 End Date: 29 September 2012
Status: COMPLETED
Objective:

The primary objectives are to:
  1. Map and analyse the ground holding and gear setting behaviour of rock lobster fishers at selected sites along the Tasman Peninsula coastline.
  2. Describe rock lobster fisher decision making inputs regarding pot placement during peak periods and throughout the season.
  3. Identify perceptions of resource sharing and fisher preferences for management approaches to resource sharing between the recreational and commercial sectors.
Final Report
What did the project achieve?

This study involved mapping the distribution of recreational and commercial pots through time in an area of the Tasman Peninsula, analysis of commercial logbook data from the Tasman Peninsula and interviews with recreational and commercial fishers. These interviews were designed to identify decision making processes that influenced where fishers go fishing and perceptions about the nature of competition and interactions between and within sectors.

Mapping of gear placement revealed considerable overlap in terms of where and when recreational and commercial fishers set their pots within the area surveyed on the Tasman Peninsula. Overall, however, recreational effort tended to be more concentrated closer to the main access points (Pirates Bay and Fortescue Bay boat ramps) whereas commercial effort was spread more evenly throughout the surveyed area.

Recreational pot effort peaked in the survey area immediately following the opening of the season and then declined sharply after the opening weekend. In contrast, commercial effort was low in the survey area immediately following the opening of the commercial season despite effort within the broader Tasman Peninsula region being at its highest level, confirming that early season commercial effort was directed away from the main recreational fishing areas adjacent to the Pirates Bay and Fortescue Bay boat ramps.

Furthermore commercial effort was low during the Christmas/ New Year period, suggesting that many commercial fishers take time off at this time of year, thereby reducing interactions/ competition with recreational fishers during this period of peak activity for recreational fishers.

The distribution of recreational pot effort revealed no evidence that fishers tend to travel further afield as the season progressed, despite the progressive fish down of stocks close to the main access points.

Previous experience and prevailing or forecasted weather/ sea conditions were key factors in determining where fishers deployed their gear, the former being more important amongst recreational fishers whereas the latter was more important to commercial fishers. The presence of other gear was a secondary and minor consideration in deciding where to set gear for most fishers.

The vast majority of fishers reported sighting other gear in the areas they fished on at least half of their fishing trips, the majority acknowledging that the gear included pots from both sectors. Most of the commercial fishers interviewed indicated that they tended to avoid areas where other gear was already present, whereas for the majority of recreational fishers the presence of other gear made little difference to their decision where to fish. At least in terms of interactions with other recreational pot fishers, most considered that this was either not an issue or only a minor issue in respect to crowding on the grounds and fishing enjoyment. By contrast, a greater proportion of the recreational fishers (just under half) considered competition with commercial fishers to be a major issue.

Recreational fishers who expressed a preference for fishing on weekdays and during non-holiday periods did so the reduce potential competition with other fishers. By contrast, those with a stated preference for fishing on weekends and during holiday periods did so mainly in response to opportunity, ie being able to work around work and/or family commitments. There was a relatively strong preference amongst recreational potters to fish at the start of the season, mainly due to an expectation of higher catch rates.

Both sectors generally acknowledged that the presence of other pots influenced their catch rates negatively and both expressed concern over the impact that recreational divers had on lobster stocks and the need to further restrict this method. Many recreational fishers also considered that commercial access inshore and especially in areas close to key boat ramps should be restricted or limited to reduce competition and pressure on inshore stocks.


East Coast Rock Lobster Fishery Report cover
Click on image to download full report
Benefits

This study has confirmed the notion of inter-sectoral competition in inshore waters, and in particular around key access points. It is however, identified some key differences in spatial and temporal usage patterns. For instance recreational fishers are more likely to fish in close proximity of access points whereas commercial fishers (deliberately or otherwise) tended to reduce the level of spatial competition by fishing away from the main access points early in the season and reduce or cease fishing over the Christmas/ New Year period when recreational effort was high.

Recreational and commercial fishers recognised that competition within and between sectors was an issue and interestingly both considered that competition from recreational divers was an important issue despite the fact that the total catch by divers is low relative to pot catches from the study area.

Friday Fishing

Lead Agency: George Town Council
Funding: $3,100.00
Start Date: 17 December 2011 End Date: 1 April 2014
Status: COMPLETE
Objective:

The primary objectives are to:
  • Increase the awareness of sustainable fishing
  • Increase the use of sustainable and ethical fishing practices
  • Educate fishers on the use of equipment, handling techniques and catch and release methods
  • Increase fishing opportunities for local and tourist fishers in the municipality
  • Establish a culture of fishing events and competitions in the George Town area
  • Raise awareness of the health benefits of fishing as a sporting exercise and the benefits of eating fish
  • Promote the work of Fishwise and Fishcare volunteers.

Final Report

What did the project achieve?

The Fishwise community project has enjoyed a continual growth of attendees including seniors, youth, tourists and community leaders.  In particular, the January program welcomed over 60 participants each day resulting in an immense number of fish being caught by our excited participants.

Throughout the project, we have regularly discussed and exercised the key objective of raising awareness of sustainable fishing and sustainable and ethical fishing practices. Those who attended were educated in fishing skills such as handling techniques, catch and release methods, equipment use and solid practices.  As a result of progressing this project through community fishing days, it has assisted the community to engage in a culture of fishing.

Benefits

With an increased participation rate over the program, George Town Council and Fishcare volunteers have been able to illustrate the benefits of sustainable recreational fishing.  The benefits to the local environment coupled with the knowledge of continued safe fishing practices is escalating the use and marketing of recreational fisheries all over Tasmania.  This could not have been projected without the Fishwise Grant.

Follow-up/Maintenance

George Town Council has scheduled further fishing days for May 2014.

Tasmanian Marine Fisheries Map

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc
Funding: $15,000.00
Start Date: 01 January 2011 End Date: 18 June 2013
Status: COMPLETE
Objective:
  1. The project will build a scalable Tasmanian Marine Fisheries Overlay.
  2. Identify the overall footprint of marine fishing activities in state waters.
  3. Increase public awareness and knowledge about the breadth and extent of marine fishing activities in Tasmanian state waters.
  4. Map Marine Farming zones, areas and leases.
  5. Map the entire commercial fishing fleet size by fishery and zones where applicable.
  6. Map Marine Protected Areas and Marine Reserves and other marine areas of interest.
Final Report
What did the project achieve?

Consolidation of all Tasmanian state waters fishing information into one single repository, ie Google Earth. The Marine Fisheries Map and User Manual is available through the TARFish website.

Benefits
  • Clearly identifies areas that are set aside for marine fishing activities
  • Increases public awareness and knowledge of marine fishing activities
  • Easy idnetifies marine protected areas and reserves and other restricted marine areas
  • Provides access to scalable information that is currently not available in a form that is free
  • Schools should find the information of benefit when teaching about the marine environment and fishing activities.
Follow-up/Maintenance
  • TARFish will keep the Google Earth layer updated at least every six months for an agreed 3 year maintenance period ending on 30 June 2016
  • Maintenance will be based on information that is available in the public domain

Survey of offshore private boat fishing in Tasmania, with emphasis on gamefish and deepwater reef-fish species

Lead Agency: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) (formerly Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute (TAFI))
Funding: $71,447.00
Start Date: 01 June 2011 End Date: 3 February 2014
Status: COMPLETED

Objective:

The project will provide a detailed assessment of the recreational fishery for gamefish and deepwater reef fish in terms of fishing effort (boat days), catch rates, and harvest for key species. Species of particular interest include southern bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, albacore, mako sharks, striped trumpeter and blue eye trevalla.

Final Report
What did the project achieve?

The project has provided an estimate of catch and effort for key species and offshore recreational fisheries over a 12 month period from Tasmania. The report is also the first to quantify the loss of key species due to seal interactions with recreational fishers. A survey of fisher attitudes to management options for offshore recreational fishing, seal interactions and general attitudes towards recreational fishing is also included. A limited expenditure assessment of offshore recreational fishing is also presented.

Benefits

The survey is the first to provide a robust estimate of recreational harvest of key species including: Southern Bluefin Tuna, Albacore Tuna, Skipjack Tuna, Striped Trumpeter, Mako Shark and Blue-eye Trevalla. It is also the first study to quantify biomass lost as incidental mortality occurring due to seal interactions with the Tasmanian recreational fishery.

The results will be useful for the management of key scale fish species in Tasmania (and internationally in the case of Southern Bluefin Tuna).

Follow-up/Maintenance

The results presented provide a one year, snapshot of catch and effort from offshore recreational fishing in Tasmania. It would be good to see the survey repeated in the future, or integration of the survey methodology into other recreational fishing surveys (i.e. the statewide survey) to provide a time series of recreational harvest of what are, key recreational and commercial species.

Offshore Recreational Fishing in Tasmania Full IMAS Report
Offshore Recreational Fishing Survey summary

Artificial Reef Report

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc
Funding: $15,000.00
Start Date: 01 January 2011 End Date: 29 February 2012
Status: COMPLETED

Objectives:
  1. Identify Australian and global developments in Artificial Reefs.
  2. Understand the reasons interstate governments have implemented Artificial Reef programs.
  3. Understand the benefits and disadvantages of Artificial Reefs.
  4. Understand the social, economic, biological and environmental impacts of Artificial Reefs
  5. Publically available report that can be used to gain a broad understanding of the potential Artificial Reefs may hold for Tasmania.
Final Report
What did the project achieve?

Development of an independent consultants report covering the above aims and objectives.

Benefits

In TARFish's view the report provides a balanced view on Artificial Reefs neither advocating for or against the consideration of Artificial Reefs as a possible management tool into the future.

As was noted in the original project application the expected benefits are:
  • Potentially providing an opportunity to improve fish stocks and habitat for species generally and for particular target species.
  • Tasmania has seen in recent year's non endemic fish species that are following the East Australian Current into Tasmanian Coastal waters as a result of the impacts of climate change. This phenomenon is not expected to stop according to CSIRO, rather it is expected to increase, Snapper, Yellow Tail Kingfish and even Dolphin Fish have been recorded. Their natural habitat may be enhanced through artificial reef provision which may encourage local populations to establish themselves faster thus enhancing recreational fishing opportunities.
  • Local fish species populations could also be improved through the provision of enhanced habitats and improved ecosystems.
  • There may be economic commercial fishing benefits that may flow if Artificial Reef areas were successful in building ecosystem based fisheries. Global Artificial Reef production and best practice is believed to be currently centred in South East Asia and there may be commercial opportunities for the Australian production base of reef structures to be centred in Tasmania.

Artificial Reefs in Tasmanian 2012 - Final Report
Click on image to download full report

Fishing Tassie Style

Lead Agency: Bucaan Community House Inc
Funding: $750.00
Start Date: 01 March 2011 End Date: 6 March 2013
Status: COMPLETED

Objectives:
  • To introduce recently arrived refugees to fishing in Tasmania
  • Teach them how to catch a fish, release it unharmed if appropriate, or dispatch it humanly
  • To explain the basic rules including fish size, limits, and seasons for fishing in Tasmania and teach the rules and regulations of fishing in Tasmania
  • Opportunity for refugees to practice their English
Fishcare group Fishcare group
Final Report
What did the project achieve?
  • The purchase of 9 fishing lines and tackle
  • A fishing trip conducted with 7 participants from the Nadi Community
Benefits
  • The aim of the project was to increase awareness of Tasmanian fishing rules and regulations, and provide an opportunity for recent arrivals to experience fishing.
  • Although funding has finished we will continue to utilise Fishcare for the Bhutanese community.
  • The men who have participated have increased their knowledge of recreational fishing in Tasmania; they have developed a keen interest in continuing to practice the skills they have learnt.
Follow-up/ Maintenance

Following the education day we will schedule another fishing trip for people to practice their new skills, this will be done with the volunteers from the House.

One group have been fishing since their education day and are planning further trips.
Back Home