Fishwise Community Grants - 2007 Funding Round

Heavy Metal Contamination in Key Recreational Fish in the Derwent Estuary

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
Partners: Zinifex and Derwent Estuary Program
Funding: $3,850
Start Date: 01 September 2007 End Date: 31 July 2008

  • Undertake a detailed review of existing Derwent seafood monitoring program data on heavy metals in sand flathead.
  • Examine heavy metal levels in a range of recreationally significant species collected from different areas within the Derwent.
  • Examine relationships between heavy metal concentrations and life history characteristics (age and diet) in a range of recreationally significant species.
  • Provide advice in relation to the health risks posed by consumption of the species taken from the Derwent (by reference to Australian food standards guidelines).
Final Report
Heavy metal contamination in muscle tissue of four key recreational fish species from the Derwent Estuary.

This study measured levels of mercury, arsenic, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, selenium and zinc in the muscle tissue of four key recreational fish species; yellow-eye mullet (Aldrichetta forsteri), black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri), sand flathead (Platycephalus bassensis) and sea-run trout (Salmo trutta) from the Derwent Estuary.

The effects of diet, age, length, gender and region on metal levels were examined for each species and levels were compared to Australian food standards to examine the risk to human health of consumption of these species.

Mean mercury levels in the muscle tissue of black bream (1.57 mg/kg), sea-run trout (0.68 mg/kg) and sand flathead (0.53 mg/kg) exceeded the maximum permitted level of 0.5 mg/kg for mercury in seafood as prescribed by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).

Mean levels for all other metals were below the maximum permitted and generally expected levels (FSANZ) for all species and therefore pose little threat to human health. Significant (P

In contrast to sediment levels, the highest mercury concentrations were in sand flathead from Ralphs Bay which is some distance from the most contaminated region of the estuary. Age was found to be the best predictor of mercury in sand flathead from the Derwent Estuary.
AS Hunt Thesis Cover
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A field study of the relationships between diet and heavy metal concentrations in the sand flathead

The Derwent estuary in southeast Tasmania has some of the highest concentrations of heavy metals in sediments in the world. Heavy metals concentrations were measured in muscle, liver and gonad tissues of sand flathead (Platycephalus bassensis), as well as in two major prey groups of flathead (crabs and fish), from four different regions within the Derwent estuary.

Mercury was analysed by cold-vapour atomic fluorescence, and concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, selenium and zinc were analysed via inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Concentrations of mercury in muscle were above the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) guidelines of 0.5 g/kg at three of the four regions of the Derwent estuary (means: 0.33, 0.57, 0.62, 0.64 mg/kg) which were significantly higher than the flathead from the control region (0.22 mg/kg), indicating substantial anthropogenic contamination exists in the estuary.

Mean liver concentrations of mercury were 3-4 times that of muscle. The general order of accumulation of most metals was liver > gonad > muscle.

Metal concentrations in flathead organs showed positive relationships with prevalence of certain prey groups in the diet, based on results of the stomach contents analysis.

Significant relationships were also found between metal concentrations in prey and in flathead, but very few were found between concentrations in biota and sediment.
J Verdouw Thesis Cover
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Understanding Movement Patterns in Key Recreational Species

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
Funding: $30,930
Start Date: 01 October 2007 End Date: 26 April 2012

  • Determine seasonal movement patterns in selected recreationally significant species.
  • Determine habitat usage, including residence times in different habitat types.
  • Determine movement patterns in relation to life history stages.
Final Report
What did the project achieve?
Acoustic tracking of fish can reveal important information about fish behaviour, including habitat usage, migration or movement patterns, relationships between distribution and environmental parameters, interactions with other species and con-specifics, etc. Such information is important from a management perspective, as well as being informative to fishers in terms of understanding patterns of distribution, abundance and availability.
  1. Determine seasonal movement patterns in selected recreationally significant fish species.

    Seasonal movement patterns were identified for the three studied species - sand flathead, black bream and brown trout. There was evidence of synchronicity in the timing of these movement patterns not only within but also between species.
  2. Determine habitat usage, including residence times in different habitat types.

    Habitat usage and residence time of all three species was explored. The vast majority of fish tagged in the Derwent estuary remained within the estuary. Sand flathead displayed small home ranges, while brown trout and bream utilised the mid- and upper estuary to a greater degree but also had relatively narrow home ranges within these areas.
  3. Determine movement patterns in relation to life history stages.
There were no obvious differences in movement patterns based on the size of fish studied. The majority of fish tagged were above the size at maturity as smaller fish could not be tagged due to limitations imposed by the size of the tags that were used.
Acoustic Tracking Fishwise Report
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This study was targeted at one of the most heavily fished regions of the state by recreational fishers and involved key recreational species. Through improved understanding of the movement dynamics of these species, issues such as availability and vulnerability of the species are better understood.

The information will also be useful for recreational anglers to understand the movement and seasonal behaviour of these species, which provides a basis to increase stewardship of recreational fishing in southeast Tasmania.

The results complement ongoing research conducted at IMAS regarding the bioaccumulation of heavy metals in fish species within the Derwent estuary. This research is particularly important for human health stemming from the consumption of recreationally caught fish species within the estuary.

The development of a Bayesian state space model to interpret acoustic telemetry data of fish movement that was developed through the course of this study will greatly advance the field. This will enhance the profile of recreational fisheries research in Tasmania once the results are published in the international peer reviewed literature.

Community Education and Awareness

Lead Agency: Tasmania Police
Funding: $3,748
Start Date: 01 December 2007 End Date: 31 January 2008

  • The purchase of a laptop and monitor to assist in the education of the Tasmanian community on good fishing practices and environmental practices.

Ten Years of Fishcare

Lead Agency: Fishcare Volunteers
Funding: $20,470
Start Date: 01 January 2008 End Date: 16 June 2010
  • To reduce maintenance and downtime on current equipment.
  • To ensure the Fishcare Volunteers are able to present as a body of professional and credible educators.
Final Report
What did the project achieve?
  • Commission pool designs and produce pools
    The project application states that the aim is to purchase fishing pools by commissioning a standard design that is transportable, easy to erect, robust, safe and is easily erected. These pools are used at events such as Agfest to provide a fun hands -on fishing experience for young children using magnetic model fish to "catch" and measure as a background to introducing fundamental fisheries issues to the children and (importantly) their parents. Instead of customised designs, it was found that using relatively cheap "off the shelf" pools were cost effective. Two pools, and one carry bag were purchased under this activity component. Fishing pool activities have been conducted at numerous school events and fairs including Agfest in 2008 & 9, Bream Creek show 2008, 2009, 2010, Treadlightly Envirofest, Seafarers Festival (Bellerive).
  • Repair equipment and purchase new rods etc
    Eighty new rods were purchased. As these are attractive assets, an asset register will be developed to track this equipment. It was noted that to reflect the funding base of the grant program the equipment purchased will focus on sea fishing rather than inland fishing.
  • Uniforms
    New uniforms and basic personal OHS gear (sunglasses and sunscreen) were purchased. A small amount of uniform equipment was retained for future use, ensuring current and new Fishcare volunteers look tidy while doing Fishcare activities. Fishcare volunteers will continue to have input into the program gear requirements.
  • Other Operational Expenses:
    The Southern FCVs who had been active for more than 12 months were presented with certificates mounted in the "window face" of the case of Fish filleting kits. This expenditure amounted to around $400. One hundred "multi tools" at around $13.50 each were purchased. These plier like tools are embossed with "Fishcare - Ten Years" and active Fishcare volunteers presented with one of these handy devices to use in their everyday life as well as in their Fishcare role.
The equipment purchased, particularly the new rods were operational in time for the Spring Summer events program. Pools have also been used at major events.


Fishcare furnishes a unique opportunity for grass roots communication with fishing communities across Tasmania. With fishing experience training and credos behind them, volunteers undertake a liaison role between fisheries managers and the fisher at an appropriate level. This project provided an opportunity to mark 10 years of the program and re-motivate volunteers.

Fishcare volunteers are very much "out there ! " Many attend key marine events or go out on patrols and talk to fishers who are undertaking everyday fishing activities. Others are trained to go into schools. This project allowed the replacement of some outdated equipment, such as the rods used in the fishing pools.

Follow-up/ Future Activities
This project highlighted the need to include the basic requirement not relying on Fishwise Community Grants for the provision doing core Fishcare activities. As such an allocation of uniforms have been included in the Fishwise Community Partnership budget.

Code of Practice for Recreational Fishing

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc
Partners: Department of Primary Industries and Water and Fishcare Volunteers
Funding: $25,500
Start Date: 31 October 2007 End Date: 28 February 2009

  • To promote greater community awareness and enhance public education: by encouraging greater individual responsibility for looking after our fisheries, the environment and respecting the rights of others.
Final Report
The original Grant Application was for the production of 50,000 copies of a Code of Practice for Recreational Fishing in Tasmania.

The original intended product was a 4 page A4 sized pamphlet. We decided that the production of a more substantial Code was required and developed a 20 page A5 size booklet which could be easily carried on the boat and was the same dimensions as the Recreational Sea Fishing Guide put out by DPIW.

15,000 Code Booklets were printed,and distributed as per the supplied Bulk Distribution List.

All the major tackle stores in Tasmania received stock of the booklets. We provided free of charge the inside back cover of the booklet to the Fishcare Volunteers program as TARFish believes this program is instrumental in teaching and educating our future recreational fishers of the social and community benefits that recreational fishing provides. We also developed a Poster, refer attached, which was supplied to all Tackle Stores to advertise the Code.

Following production of the Code of Practice Booklet which was designed for an adult audience we determined we needed a simplified Code for children and sought approval to develop a suitable product, DPIW approval was given on 3 July 2008.

We developed a 13 page Children's Colour in Book. The Colour In Book has been developed using caricatures around the 12 key messages contained with the original Code of Practice Booklet and has been well received by parents and children at public events such as the Royal Hobart Show and Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania's Leisure and Boating Expo. A packet of crayons has been supplied with each Colour In Book. We managed to provide the cost of the Colour In Book within the original grant therefore no additional funds were required from the Fishwise Community Grants Program. We currently hold a stock of around 3000 Code Booklets which will be used to distribute at upcoming events and to restock tackle stores and the like as they need more stock.

Three independent quotes were obtained for the significant purchases associated with this project namely the design and print components. Tax invoices have been provided from all suppliers of equipment and services undertaken and purchased for this project.

We confirm that appropriate recognition of the Fishwise Community Grants Program funding was provided on the front cover of the 1000 Code of Practice Colour In Books and on the back cover of the 15,000 Code of Practice Booklets.
Fishing Code of Practice Cover
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TARFish News Bulletin

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc
Funding: $35,000
Start Date: 01 November 2007 End Date: 10 June 2010
  • To promote recreational fishing as a highly beneficial, healthy outdoor activity while highlighting the responsibilities of fishers: responsible and sustainable fishing, 'fish for the future' ethic, policy on 'catch and release', disposal of rubbish, the establishment and role of the Marine Protected Areas.
Final Report
7000 copies of the December 2009 edition of the bulletin were printed and distributed through our distribution network in December 2009. Electronic copies were distributed to members, contacts and electronic subscribers.

A Reply Paid service with Australia Post was organised in 2008 to provide a cost free option for people who receive bulletins to be added to the distribution database and to raise recreational fishing issues with TARFish. The Reply Paid service was established as it has become clear that there were a significant number of recreational fishers who do not have email or internet access. The Reply Paid service was incorporated into the Third Edition of the Bulletin.

An electronic subscription facility was built in June 2008 on the TARFish website that allows people to automatically subscribe and receive future editions of the TARFish Bulletin. This automated the electronic distribution of editions of the bulletin under this project.

Discussions with tackle stores and boat resellers, who are the main distributors of the 7000 printed hardcopies, have indicated that the bulletin is a popular free publication keeping fishers aware of issues and happenings in the recreational marine fishing industry.

As the CEO of TARFish my role sees me communicating with a couple of thousand fishers in any given year and there has been consistent feedback from our members, contacts and interested stakeholders that they see value in the bulletin content and it is filling an important information need about recreational marine fishing issues.

TARFish Bulletin January 2008
TARFish Bulletin April 2008
TARFish Bulletin July 2008
TARFish Bulletin October 2008
TARFish Bulletin February 2009
TARFish Bulletin June 2009
TARFish Bulletin December 2009

Promotional Display for Public Exhibitions

Lead Agency: Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing Inc
Funding: $20,000
Start Date: 01 December 2007 End Date: 25 November 2008

  • To raise community awareness of recreational fishing issues, good fishing practices and the role of TARFish, and encourage participation in recreational fishing as a healthy and socially beneficial leisure activity.
Final Report
The Grant has provided TARFish with a range of display equipment that can be used at internal and external events and venues and reinforces and complements the professional presentation of the association.

The Pod Trailer allows the Internal and External Display Units to be transported around Tasmania safely and securely as the trailer is lockable and weatherproof.

The Display Units and electronic equipment have already been used at public meetings held on the West and East Coasts, the Hobart Show, Deegans Boat Show at Ulverstone and The Tasmanian Boating Leisure & Water Sports Expo at the Motor Yacht Club of Tasmania at Lindisfarne.
TarFish Banner
TARFish Banner

Lets Go Fishing this Summer Newsletter

Lead Agency: Australian Fishing Tackle Association
Partners: Department of Primary Industries and Water, Marine and Safety Tasmania, Inland Fisheries Service
Funding: $11,842
Start Date: 01 October 2007 End Date: 28 February 2008

  • To show fishing is fun and accessible for people of all ages and most areas. Explain the basic rules such as bag limits, size limits and season. Show them how to catch a fish, release it unharmed if appropriate, or dispatch it ethically. Explain the Fishcare Volunteer program, how you can become a member, and how to contact them for help and advice. Also other places to go for advice including AFTA tackle stores.
Final Report
135,415 "Fishing is Fun" brochures were delivered state-wide in February 2008.

Recreational Scallop Surveys

Lead Agency: Tasmanian SCUBA Diving Club
Partners: Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
Funding: $5,000
Start Date: 01 October 2007 End Date: 15 July 2010

  • Expand the current knowledge of scallop distribution and abundance in the south east of Tasmania. Expand the knowledge of beds beyond the main recreational scallop fishery in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel through exploratory surveys. The data collected will provide valuable information for TAFI and DPIW on areas heavily and lightly fished, plus provide a better understanding of the distribution and size frequency of scallop beds in south east Tasmania.
Final Report
The Tasmanian SCUBA Diving Club (TSDC) received funding through the Fishwise Community Grants program to conduct recreational scallop surveys. The aim of the TSDC recreational scallop survey project was to supplement surveys conducted by TAFI in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and to conduct wider ranging exploratory surveys throughout the south east of Tasmania. Members of the TSDC thought that for the ongoing success of the recreational scallop fishery, areas beyond the D'Entrecasteaux channel needed to be identified and surveyed. Scallops have historically occurred throughout south east Tasmania's sheltered bays and members of the TSDC were keen to visit some of these bays to conduct exploratory scallop surveys.

The project commenced on the 1 October 2007 and was to conclude on the first of August 2008. The D'Entrecasteaux surveys were conducted prior to the opening of the 2008 season, the TSDC sought an extension to the project to allow members to conduct exploratory surveys beyond the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, throughout SE Tasmania during the open season, an extension to the 1 March 2009 was granted.

Prior to the commencement of the project, TAFI scientists indicated they would not be conducting pre-season surveys and would be solely concentrating on post season surveys in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Through further discussions it was agreed that the TSDC could conduct the pre-season surveys under the Fishwise funded recreational scallop survey project.


The project was conducted in two phases. Phase one involved conducting pre season surveys scallop surveys of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and phase two involved conducting exploratory surveys beyond the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.

Pre-season surveys conducted in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel utilised the methodology in Zacharin 1991, where 100 metre transect lines were layed out from the boat usually following a depth contour or set into the current. Scallops were collected one metre either side of the line, by a pair of divers. On some occasions where scallops were numerous, the entire transect line was not completed. Where this occurred the distance travelled along the line was recorded. The location of surveys in the Channel was provided by TAFI, and were divided into four regions, with two sites in region one Conningham, seven sites in region two Barnes Bay and Kettering, 26 sites in region 3 Great Bay down to Gordon, five sites in region four Satellite Island and Little Taylors Bay.

Scallops were brought to the surface sorted by species where shell length was measured and recorded. The scallops were then returned to the water within the general vicinity of their capture.

Exploratory surveys undertaken outside the D'Entrecasteaux Channel were to utilise a timed swim method. Two divers conducted the survey searching and collecting scallops over a set time period usually 10 or 20 minutes. Sites were chosen to maximise the likely chance of finding scallops, based on experience of TSDC members or anecdotal information. Depth ranges of between 5-20 m were surveyed throughout most areas. The GPS location of survey sites was recorded where a vessel had a GPS.


Data supplied to TAFI for analysis, and included in their 2008 assessment of the recreational scallop fishery.


Phase one of the project was completed prior to the opening of the 2008 recreational scallop season. Surveys were conducted at 31 sites though out the channel. The data was forwarded to TAFI and was included in their 2008 assessment of the recreational scallop fishery. Thus the TSDC has not provided it's own analysis of the data.

Phase two of the project was to survey scallop populations in various areas throughout SE Tasmania. It was found after a number attempts by members to locate scallops outside the channel that this would be no easy task. A towed video camera was trailed but was found to be ineffective due to the slow speeds that were required. A number of dives were conducted off Little Swan Port with no scallops found. It was decided that the TSDC would abandon efforts to progress with this part of the project.

Subtidal Reef Monitoring Project

Lead Agency: Tasmanian SCUBA Diving Club
Partners: TDA Crabs Diving Club, Tasmanian Marine Naturalists Association, Oceans Plus Dive Club, Leven Sub-Aqua Club, University Underwater Club, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
Funding: $35,575
Start Date: 01 October 2007 End Date: 15 July 2010

  • Monitor the effect of invasive marine species, such as the long-spined sea urchin Centrostephanus Rogersii on representative sites.
  • Identify major shifts in biodiversity at representative sites and provide an 'early warning system' for threats to that biodiversity.
  • Educate divers and the general community about the marine environment.
  • Provide information, such as seaweed samples and photographs of unique animals to scientific bodies for further research.
  • Provide data that will complement any studies planned to be undertaken by scientific bodies
  • Analyse and refine methods for volunteer participation in volunteer research projects.
  • Build up a volunteer skills base for further community research projects.
Final Report
The project succeeded in over delivering on the targeted number of urchin surveys.

The project produced these survey results under-budget and with the active participation of a large proportion of the recreational club divers in the State. It is the first time that dive clubs across Tasmania have joined together in a cooperative volunteer undertaking of this kind.

After a slow first year as clubs came to grips with the technical and organisational requirements, active surveying got underway in the second Spring/Summer season. Divers rapidly adapted to the new survey techniques and engaged in the project enthusiastically.

Overall the project ran exceptionally well and was very successful within the limits of the relatively straightforward and tailored tasks that the participants were asked to perform.

It appears to have produced useful data along with very worthwhile community awareness and marine education outcomes.

The project also made linkages with the scientific community and has encouraged divers to further participate in general surveying and climate change programs.

Data Collection Results

It would appear that average black urchin densities in many areas have not increased since 2001/02 except for St Helens and Eddystone where high densities occur and there is some evidence that densities have been increasing, even possibly within areas that are already barren. It would appear that this population density 'head start' has advantaged urchins in these areas, whereas in other areas their population growth appears to be relatively static.

While there has been no general spread of large urchin barrens outside of St Helens and Eddystone, there has been widespread and probably growing damage from small incipient barrens that are relatively common down the East Coast at least as far as Fortescue Bay. This should be of concern because it augers poorly for the health of reefs if there are further major recruitment events in the future. It also creates concerns where these relatively small barrens coincide with areas of high biodiversity and fisheries importance, eg, the Fortescue Bay kelp forest, Marine Protected Areas like Governor Island and Handfish habitat along Eastern Tasman Peninsula particularly.
SubTidal Reef Monitoring Report Cover
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