Research projects set to assist Torres Strait fisheries

26 February 2013

A man collecting sandfish om Warrior Reef

Bradley Ahwang collecting sandfish on Warrior Reef for the survey. Photo courtesy CSIRO.

AFMA, in conjunction with the CSIRO, has recently finalised two important research projects for Torres Strait Fisheries – reef gardens assessment and the sandfish experimental fishing survey.

The AFMA-funded reef gardens project will collate information to assist traditional owners in finding suitable locations for reef gardens of valuable hand collectable species including sandfish, black teatfish (sea cucumbers) and trochus (a type of shell).

Two types of gardens were identified in the study; ‘breeding reefs’ and ‘grow-out reefs’. Breeding reefs are areas of habitat with a strategic position, due to factors such as currents, which means that when sea cucumbers breed they will also spread to other nearby fishing grounds. Grow-out reefs are areas of suitable habitat where sea cucumbers can grow until they reach a harvestable size for market.

The final Reef Gardens Assessment Report will be made publicly available shortly.

For the Sandfish experimental fishing survey Traditional Inhabitant fishers from the islands of Poruma and Iama collaborated with CSIRO and AFMA staff.

These research projects provide important information about stock levels and health, which help scientists to develop recommendations for future management.

The Torres Strait Scientific Advisory Committee is currently assessing two further potential projects with a sea cucumber focus. Both projects are again to be delivered by CSIRO.

The first is the production of a sea cucumber species guide to be provided to Torres Strait communities to assist in identification and catch reporting. The second project is for the development of a Torres Strait sea cucumber management strategy evaluation. This will help provide guidance to for the management of sea cucumber and other hand collectable fisheries into the future.

For more information please contact Adam Leatherbarrow, Senior Fisheries Management Officer on 07 4069 1990 or email adam.leatherbarrow@afma.gov.au.