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Data Collection Helping Sustainability of Fishery

AUSTRALIA - Fishers from the Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery have been collecting valuable ageing structures and length measurements from the fish they catch to support Great Australian Bight Fishing Industry Associations (GABIA) programme to improve stock assessments and increase knowledge about fish stocks.

GABIA initiated a programme to improve the scientific data available to the Great Australian Bight Resource Assessment Group (GABRAG). GABIA asked fishers to collect otoliths and length measurements from the fish they catch.

Otolith are fish ear bones and when looked at under a microscope they have rings similar to growth rings on trees and aid scientists in determining the age of fish. Length measurements are also used in determining the age of fish that are being caught.

Industry have enthusiastically supported the programme and GABIA have been directly funding the data collection. The fishery is on target to collect 500 otoliths and 1000 length measurements for this year for three species caught in the Great Australian Bight, Western Gemfish, Blue Grenadier and Pink Ling.

Crew based length frequency sampling for the two key target species has been operating for a number of years now. Length frequency sample numbers have increased substantially since this programme commenced.

The GAB Trawl fishing industry is to be commended for their proactive approach.

Lucy Towers

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