The spatial and temporal variation of water types along the east coast of Australia reinforces the need for habitat specific fisheries management strategies that reflect a changing oceanic environment. In recent decades, winds associated with climate change have strengthened and extended warm and more saline waters further south, with various ecosystem changes and fishery consequences.
The effect of these shifting and dynamic water masses on the movements and ecology of pelagic fish is currently unknown, with oceanic habitats for some species likely to expand under climate change conditions.
Steph is investigating how the oceanic variability off the east coast of Australia influences the movements and distributions of pelagic fish. Steph uses acoustic telemetry, integrated with the IMOS Animal Tracking Facility to determine the seasonal and inter-annual oceanic habitats of dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, and yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi. Acoustic telemetry is also used to examine fish use of fisheries enhancement structures (artificial reefs and Fish Aggregation Devices) deployed by NSW Fisheries. This project will advance the current knowledge of fish habitat association off the east coast of Australia.
Fishery dependent datasets sampled for more than 30 years from NSW Fisheries are also being used to model the distribution of dolphinfish and yellowtail kingfish on and off the NSW shelf. The outcome of this project will allow managers and policy makers to make informed decisions about Australia’s fisheries based on oceanic habitats defined by CSIRO data assimilation products, rather than static latitudinal boundaries. This project will also allow predictions to be made about how fish will respond to a changing oceanic climate.