Fin fish and crab populations in the Corindi and Wooli river systems are being recorded in a bid to examine the species diversity and the impact of recreational fishing and Marine Park zonings.
Southern Cross University (SCU) Masters student, Damian Young, has spent the past 13 months recording data about fish and crabs in these river systems, which are part of the Solitary Islands Marine Park.
Damian, who is based at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour, said the data collected would provide much-needed information to enable the ongoing monitoring of fish populations and to examine the impact of recreational fishing within the Marine Park.
Damian said this was the first study of its kind to identify fish populations residing and migrating in and out of these areas and would provide a basis for future assessments and assist in planning and management of the Marine Park.
“It’s multi-focussed. It will give some indication of the impact of recreational fishing, but will also describe the fish and crab assemblages across seasons, and their size structures within these areas,” Damian said.
“There are a lot of tropical fish migrating down into these waters. There are quite a lot of northern species we wouldn’t expect down here particularly during the warmer months of the year.”
Damian said the fish and crabs were caught using multi-panelled nets, measured and recorded and then returned to the water. The sampling, done at night, was subject to strict animal care and ethics guidelines.
“I have finished collecting the initial data, which was over 13 lunar periods. Now I will go back once every three months to check for any seasonal patterns.
“My data will go directly to NSW Fisheries and the NSW Marine Park Authority and hopefully will provide an understanding of what’s happening in these systems. It will also give information about the fish and crab populations and size structures over time and provide a benchmark to check diversity.”
The National Marine Science Centre, a joint venture between Southern Cross University and University of New England, was established for research and teaching on the marine ecology and management of Australia's marine zone and beyond. The centre, near Charlesworth Bay, includes an experimental tank farm, aquarium room and teaching and research laboratories.
Media contact: Brigid Veale on 02 66593006 or 0439 680748