Popular species tracked in harbour

January 21, 2022

BLACK jewfish in Gladstone’s waterways are being tagged and tracked, to help gather information for important marine research.

Gladstone Ports Corporation’s (GPC) team are assisting with the deployment, download and retrieval of data from two receivers, as part of the project.

It’s all part of a collaboration between James Cook University (JCU), the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the Australian Institute of Marine science (AIMs), and CQUniversity (CQU).

GPC’s data will provide researchers with important information about the species, including a timeline of movements, residency, aggregation behaviour and habitat use.

The tagged fish are detected by acoustic receivers deployed in waters along the Queensland coast including in Gladstone – a key region for the project.

Fisheries Queensland Executive Director Dallas Dsilva said the research being done in GPC’s project would complement work already underway to help protect the sustainability of black jewfish.

“We know black jewfish are vulnerable to overfishing and stock collapses have been previously documented in Australia and overseas,” Mr Dsilva said.

“That is why in May 2019 the Queensland Government introduced a total allowable catch limit for black jewfish, and, in 2020, Queensland Government scientists commenced a three-year priority research project to better understand stocks and manage the species.

“Data from these projects will provide crucial information to guide future management actions to help protect the sustainability of black jewfish, and support the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy’s aim to ensure healthy fish stocks to support thousands of Queensland jobs.”

Chief Operating Officer Craig Walker said GPC is proud to be part of the project with its environmental team deploying two acoustic receivers in the port.

“Our environment team will then download the data which will assist DAF with any management strategies for black jewfish outlined under Queensland’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy,” Mr Walker said.

“Economic, environmental and social sustainability underpin everything we do at our port,” he said.

“This project by JCU, DAF, AIMs and CQU is another opportunity for GPC to rise to the occasion and contribute to important research from the data our team collects,”

“It’s also a win-win for us to continue to care for Gladstone’s Big 6.”

Member for Gladstone and Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing, Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, said local waterways have long been the home to critical marine information and this project is no different.

“We know that Gladstone is home to a range of Queensland’s beautiful flora and fauna, so it is vital that GPC and the State Government do what we can to assist in the research, tracking and preservation of our natural wonders.”

“I applaud GPC, JCU, DAF, AIMs and CQU for their efforts in this project,” Mr Butcher said.

The receivers will form part of a larger coastal array of more than 150 receivers in coastal waters.

The tags come with long life expectancy and will provide a long term method to monitor the species.

JCU Researcher Adam Barnett said Port areas were key habitats for jewfish and the research would give important insight into jewfish movements.

“The assistance of GPC in maintaining receivers provides infrastructure in determining both local habitat use patterns and larger scale migrations along the Queensland Coast,” Mr Barnett said.

“It will help us determine connectivity between other jewfish hotspots such as Yeppoon and Mackay,” Dr Barnett said.

CQU Research Fellow Dr Nicole Flint said the Gladstone Harbour provided important habitats for many economically and ecologically important fish species.

“The data obtained from these receivers will improve knowledge of black jewfish movements and activity in and around the harbour.”

(Acting) Environment Superintendent Fiona Horner and Environment Specialist Megan Ellis