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Queensland Boosts Fisheries Sustainability

by 5m Editor
9 April 2010, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Queensland is turning to mathematics to increase the sustainability and profitability of its fisheries.

In a new partnership, the Queensland Government and University of Queensland are funding the Centre for Applications in Resource Mathematics - a group that will use mathematical theories and tools to better manage the state’s fisheries.

Dr You-Gan Wang has been appointed to lead the Centre's research activities.

Prior to this appointment, Dr You Gan-Wang held positions as senior science leader in mathematical sciences at CSIRO, and a faculty member at Harvard University and the National University of Singapore.

Warwick Nash, Science Leader of Fisheries and Aquaculture within the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), said the new Centre would help position Queensland among the international leaders in the field of applied fisheries science and mathematics.

He said: "Many of us don't think of mathematics when we talk about fisheries, but it is an area which we increasingly believe holds the answers to improved profitability and sustainability of Queensland fisheries.

"Fisheries resource modelling, for example, compares the state of a fish population to its virgin state before fishing began. It combines data such as catch history, catch rates per hour or per day of fishing, and age structure of the population to estimate the current status of the fishery.

"This allows researchers to better understand the population dynamics of popular fished species and can also be used by fisheries managers to help guide their business decisions."

Mr Nash said mathematical modelling was used in Queensland to develop a specific offshore trawl fishery for stout whiting.

He explained: "Over a 15-year period, mathematical modelling has enabled researchers and managers to estimate the total sustainable catch of stout whiting.

"This has allowed the development of a fishery that efficiently and sustainably targets and captures stout whiting, thereby expanding a Queensland export industry."

It is not just commercial fishers who benefit from mathematical analysis.

Mr Nash added: "A 2006 study of red throat emperor, conducted by scientists from DEEDI and James Cook University on the Great Barrier Reef, found that a significant proportion of adult fish, possibly because they are in deep water, are not currently accessed by commercial and recreational fishers.

"This is important. As ensuring adequate protection of a component of the breeding population will mean a strong healthy fishery that will continue to support quality angling experiences for recreational fishers, who travel to the Reef, and a profitable commercial fishery."

Mr Nash said the appointment of Dr You-Gan Wang was an exciting step forward for fisheries research and would help advance the area of applied resource mathematics.

He said: "It is also an important part of strengthening DEEDI's quantitative fisheries assessment group, and ongoing partnership and science with the University of Queensland."

The Centre for Applications in Resource Mathematics is based within the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland.

The centre will also develop applied mathematical tools for management of forestry, water security, conservation, pests and diseases, and provide an educational programme that gives UQ students the quantitative skills critical for the future sustainability of Australia's natural resources.

5m Editor