2020 AIRF Funding Round

Effect of Temperature on Abalone Condition as a Function of Season, Location and Rate of Change

Lead Agency: Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
Funding: $375,476
Start Date: 1 April 2020                         End Date: 31 March 2022
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:

The principal aim of this project is to determine the primary factors contributing to the seasonal decline in condition of blacklip abalone on eastern Tasmanian rocky reefs.  A secondary aim is to determine the effect of sub-lethal exposure to elevated temperatures as potential cause of recruitment failure.

Specific objectives are;

  1. Quantify change in physiological status of abalone across seasons in relation to maximum temperature and rate of change in temperature.
  2. Determine whether re-conditioning of abalone is feasible prior to live export.
  3. Determine the effect of sub-lethal physiological response to key organism functions (growth, reproductive output).
  4. If time permits, use abiotic conditions (temperature, swell) as predictors of stress in population dynamic predictive models under future climate change scenarios.


Babel Island Group (including Babel, Cat, Stonehouse Island)

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Commercial Divers Association (TCDA)
Funding: $31,000
Start Date: 1 November 2020                          End Date: 31 May 2021
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:
  • Remove all sizes of Centro from Babel Island.
  • Remove Centro within roe season for processing, or use urchin waste for waste processing machine.
  • Trial the feasibility of mother boats/ live tanking in the urchin industry.
  • Provide urchin to IMAS for sampling.

Tasmanian Commerical Dive Industry - Centrostephanus industry short film

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Commercial Divers Association (TCDA)
Funding: $3,000
Start Date: 1 June 2020                          End Date: 30 August 2020
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:

Produce a short film showing why and how Centro turned up, the effect they have had on Tasmanian reefs, what actions are being taken and summarised positive results.  This film would include aspects on the TACL/ AIRF input towards accelerating harvest and industry.

Inform industry members, the general public and anyone interested on the background and current movement of the Centro harvest industry.


Nutritional quality of kelp as a key driver of commercial abalone productivity

Lead Agency: Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
Funding: $186,712
Start Date: 1 April 2020                          End Date: 28 February 2022
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:

The principal aim of this project is to extend our understanding of the seasonal changes and
geographical gradients or breakpoints in understory algal communities on productive abalone reefs
as a major determinant of reef/block scale abalone productivity. The secondary aim is to place the
nutritional quality of understory species adjacent to point-source and/or unnatural inputs in
context to the natural and dynamic contribution from natural processes.

Our specific objectives are;
1.    To classify the productivity of East coast abalone blocks using key nutritional components of
understory algae as a proxy for potential productivity.
2.    Determine the role of nutritional status of kelp in the annual seasonal (summer) decline in
condition and resilience of abalone to post-harvest stresses
3.    Examine the seasonal changes of understory algae nutrition at specific locations where
nutrient input is increased (sewerage discharge) and/or displays a non-natural pattern of
arrival (e.g. weekly feeding of salmon).


Understanding Centrostephanus - Age, Growth and Size of Maturity

Lead Agency: Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
Funding: $37,581
Start Date: 1 May 2021                         End Date: 31 December 2021
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:

The overall aim of this project is to produce accurate biological and population data for Centrostephanus in Tasmania

The specific objectives of this project are:
1. Determine size of maturity of Centrostephanus
2. Update Centrostephanus age and growth models utilising new growth techniques for smaller individuals


Babel Island take-all research support

Lead Agency: Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
Funding: $10,132
Start Date: 1 October 2020                         End Date: 31 December 2020
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:

The project will deliver
1) fine scale spatial maps of the diver activity and overlap with abalone fishing
2) size/age structure of the population removed
3) accurate estimate of no. of urchins removed and analysis of CPUE data


Mapping abalone habitat impacted by Centrostephanus on the east coast of Tasmania

Lead Agency: Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
Funding: $111,738
Start Date: 1 November 2020                         End Date: 31 December 2021
Status: IN PROGRESS

Aims and Objectives:

The principle aim of this project is to map the fine-scale spatial distribution of key abalone and urchin reef habitats in < 25 m water depth using multibeam acoustic imagery. Detailed substrate type (boulder, flat rock, cobble) and kelp coverage maps will be produced with a focus on key abalone blocks and Centrostephanus impacted areas. Large urchin barrens will be mapped, and the level as to which small incipient barrens can be detected will be quantified. The initial focus on key abalone and Centrostephanus areas will facilitate strategic decision making for urchin control and abalone management.

Barrens are the physical representation of impact and again, understanding their distribution and dynamics is fundamental to strategic decision making. Prior to the formation of barrens, kelp forests show marked changes in the density and the size of individual plants. Being able to detect incipient barrens as early as possible would allow for timely interventions.

The project has the following key objectives:
1. To map the overlapping abalone and urchin habitat and substrate complexity via new water column acoustic methods.
2. Establish a 2020 baseline of kelp abundance at depths where urchin impact on blacklip abalone habitat is greatest (10 - 20m).
3. Determine acoustic threshold limits where incipient barrens can be detected.
4. Identify areas of urchin barren, and areas susceptible to extensive barren formation
5. Determine the suitability and cost effectiveness of acoustic sonar water column methods for state wide reef monitoring.


Back Home