The AFMA Research Committee (ARC) is calling for full proposals for the following essential and high research priorities, for potential funding in 2022/23.

Key information for applicants when completing and submitting full proposals

When completing and submitting full proposals, applicants should:

  • use the 2022/23 research priority scopes outlined below as a guide when developing their full proposals to meet the identified need for the project

  • use the AFMA research application form to prepare their full proposals

  • include in their full proposals:

    • the projected costs and expected funding source, as well as alternatives; and

    • the proposed contractor’s full legal identity/description, including each corporation’s full description and Australian Company Number or the full names of all partners/joint venturers. A trading name and/or Australian Business Number should also be notified, but only if registered to the parties described.

  • email their completed full proposals to the AFMA Research Secretary at research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au by Friday, 29 October 2021.

Summary of scopes

Essential priority scopes

Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF)

Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop fishery (BSCZSF)

Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF)

Macquarie Island Toothfish Fishery

High priority scopes

Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery

Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery

Small Pelagic Fishery

Essential priority scopes

Fish ageing for SESSF quota species 3 year project ending 2025/26

Project need: This project continues the fish ageing services that have been undertaken by Fish Ageing Services.

The proposed research will provide ageing data that will contribute to Tier 1 assessments for: Bight redfish, blue grenadier, deepwater flathead, flathead, gemfish - east, gummy shark, jackass morwong, orange roughy – east, pink ling, redfish, school shark, school whiting and silver warehou.

For stock assessment models to produce reliable estimates, the data must be accurate, representative and of sufficient quantity. If the data does not meet the needs for assessments, poor model estimates may result in poor management decisions or more discount factors in TAC setting.

Desired Outcomes:  Age data is needed to support fishery management decisions and assessments in the SESSF, in particular is it needed for Tier 1 assessments.

Estimates of ages for certain species to support Tier 1 stock assessments that enable robust TACs to be set.

Contacts:

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Dan Corrie

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5487

Email: dan.corrie [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Stock assessments for SESSF quota species in the SESSF in 2022 (using data to 2021) and 2023 (using data to 2022)

Project need:  AFMA provides recommendations to the AFMA Commission regarding annual Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for quota species in the SESSF based on the outcomes of quantitative or qualitative stock assessments – the key outputs are estimates of biomass (or a proxy), and Recommended Biological Catches (RBCs).

The stock assessments present fishery statistics and catch at size/age data and synthesises existing stock assessment information for the key target species of the SESSF. This is a requirement of the SESSF Harvest Strategy.

Desired Outcomes: Provide information that can be used to evaluate the performance of the fishery, and assist assessments of stock status either directly through the stock assessment process or using fishery indicators.

Contacts:

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Dan Corrie

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5487

Email: dan.corrie [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Integrated Scientific Monitoring Program (ISMP) Data Services in the SESSF 2022

Project need: As part of the Integrated Scientific Monitoring Program (ISMP), AFMA collects data to support monitoring and stock assessments across the SESSF. AFMA require estimates of catch and discard data collected under the ISMP to feed into the total allowable catch (TAC) setting process, including calculating recommended biological catches (RBCs) from stock assessments.

Summaries of catches, discards and age and length information allow AFMA and resource assessment groups (RAGs) to review and prioritise sampling requirements for assessment and monitoring of SESSF stocks.

For species managed under rebuilding strategies, targeting analyses and companion species catch estimates are a key piece of information that allow AFMA to monitor effort and catch, and are the main input to the annual review of the rebuilding strategies.

Desired Outcomes: Manipulate and analyse all applicable SESSF data to produce stock summaries that include catches, estimated discards, length and age information for all applicable SESSF species.

Undertake targeting analyses and estimate companion species catches for John dory, silver trevally, school shark, eastern redfish, eastern gemfish and blue warehou.

Contacts:

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Dan Corrie

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5487

Email: dan.corrie [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery – annual biomass Survey including target species and bycatch

Project need:  In accordance with the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery (BSCZSF) Harvest Strategy (the Harvest Strategy), the total allowable catch (TAC) for commercial scallops will not be increased above 150 t unless a biomass estimate is able to identify an area or scallop bed containing at least 1,500 t biomass of high density scallops with a minimum size of 85 mm. The BSCZSF annual biomass survey provides the biomass estimate to inform the TAC setting process and meet this need.

The objectives of the biomass survey are to:

  1. coordinate a fishery survey across the regions of the fishery to measure the size distribution and calculate biomass estimates to assess the potential for commercial catch rates in the BSCZSF using established methodology;
  2. inform the assessment of fishery impacts on bycatch species by year by bed, in particular the species identified as high risk in the fishery Ecological Risk Assessment, Threatened, Endangered and Protected (TEP) species and any other species identified as ‘of interest’; and
  3. report the draft results to AFMA, ScallopRAG and ScallopMAC and produce a final report to be published on the AFMA website.

Desired Outcomes: The biomass survey provides key information, such as estimated biomass and density of commercial scallops in the surveyed beds, which directly informs the management of the key commercial species in the fishery.

The biomass survey is also the primary source of information for bycatch in the fishery and is used to inform management decisions in regards to bycatch species.

Previously the ARC has supported the use of 150 t of research catch allowance which is allocated to the survey boats to compensate them for their time undertaking the survey.

Contacts:

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Lara Ainley

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5373

Email: lara.ainley [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Monitoring and assessment of SPF quota species under the SPF Harvest Strategy

Important Note: this scope was amended on 19/10/2021. Should you require further details, please contact AFMA on the contact details below.

Project Need: The research involves an analysis of SPF logbook, observer and CDR data. In particular, the researcher will:

  1. Conduct annual monitoring and assessment of key target species  (requirement of harvest strategy);
  2. Evaluate catch, effort, size and age data for evidence of localised depletion of target species (requirement of harvest strategy).

The research will be presented to SPFRAG who will consider the findings when determining the Recommended Biological Catch (RBC) for quota species in the SPF.

Desired Outcomes: Provide the RAG with information in the form of a presentation needed to establish a reliable and cost effective monitoring and assessment program for the SPF.

Contacts: 

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Lara Ainley

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5373

Email: lara.ainley [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Status and Dynamics of Patagonian Toothfish Population around Macquarie Island

Project Need: This project will continue the work of previous projects in terms of understanding of the status and dynamics of the Patagonian Toothfish population surrounding Macquarie Island. The continuing assessment of the status of the population has been identified as a priority research are in the sub-Antarctic fisheries research plan. This proposal seeks funding to build upon the existing stock assessment and management strategy framework and continue the stock assessment process for a further two years.

Desired Outcomes: 

  1. To provide Sub-Antarctic Resource Assessment Group (SARAG) with biennial assessments of the status of the stock of Patagonian Toothfish at Macquarie Island.
  2. To provide the SARAG with, where deemed necessary, analyses that explore the robustness of the assessment using the Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) approach
  3. To continue monitoring the stock through the mark-recapture program.

Contacts:

Trent Timmiss

Senior Manager, Tuna and International Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5313

Email: trent.timmiss [at] afma.gov.au

Brodie Macdonald

Manager, Antarctic Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5368

Email: brodie.macdonald [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

High priority scopes

Blue grenadier acoustic survey 2022 (including planning for 2023)

Project Need: The next blue grenadier Tier 1 stock assessment is scheduled for 2021, and if a three-year Multi-year TAC (MYTAC) is adopted, the following assessment would be scheduled for 2024.

An acoustic survey of the winter blue grenadier spawning aggregation was supported by the ARC and funded in 2021. SESSFRAG have recommended that ongoing blue grenadier acoustic surveys should be prioritized, and that future proposals are modified to account for cross-over with planned surveys and financial years.

The TAC was fully caught in the 2020-21 fishing season, and it is expected to be fully caught again in 2021-22. Updated acoustic indices, which are the main index in the Tier 1 stock assessment, will be important to update the estimated biomass given high catches in recent years.

Desired Outcomes:

  1. Conduct structured acoustic surveys through the 2022 winter spawning aggregation to provide a comprehensive view of the fishery and robust estimates of biomass to input to the 2024 Tier 1 stock assessment.
  2. Additionally, the acoustic data will enable sustained observation of the operational fishery through the season. This gives the potential to develop time-series monitoring metrics (school metrics, fishing patterns) to detect seasonal and inter-annual trends to complement the formal transect surveys.
  3. A survey plan for the 2023 winter spawning aggregation, subject to support from the ARC in 2022.

Contacts:

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Dan Corrie

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5487

Email: dan.corrie [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Improving CPUE standardisations for sharks

Project Need: This project will build on the outcome of previous research, AFMA project 170826 Improved Catch Per Unit Effort Standardizations in Australia's Gillnet, Hook and Trap sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery, which produced standardized catch per unit effort (CPUE) indices that incorporated net length and mesh size for gillnet caught gummy shark, sawshark and elephant fish for use in stock assessments for the Gillnet, Hook and Trap (GHAT) sector of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). Further work has been identified to improve the gillnet CPUE standardizations used in the Tier 1 stock assessment for gummy shark, in particular to:

  1. Clarify the relationship (e.g. linearity) between CPUE and net length;
  2. Take account of the effects of Australian sea lion and other closures;

Account for the changing dynamics of the GHAT fleet, in particular new entrants.

Desired Outcomes: To obtain a better understanding of stock status through improved standardised CPUE used in assessments. Updated standardized CPUE indices for gillnet caught gummy shark will be used in the next Tier 1 stock assessment to support management.

Contacts:

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Sally Weekes

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5520

Email: sally.weekes [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Analysis of economic data collected in the fishery

Project Need: In order to meet the economic objectives of the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy (Harvest Strategy Policy), there is a need to incorporate economic data in the total allowable catch (TAC) setting process under the BSCZSF Harvest Strategy.

The absence of detailed economic data has made it difficult for ScallopRAG and ScallopMAC to make an informed assessment of the economic implications of different management decisions, such as TAC, for the fishery when providing advice to AFMA and the AFMA Commission.

A project is currently underway that will collect and analyse economic information that can inform the revised Harvest Strategy. This is funded for 2021-22.

At the end of the current project AFMA anticipate that additional analysis of economic data will be required before the model can be appropriately tested and incorporated into a revised Harvest Strategy.

AFMA expects the revised Harvest Strategy approach will be adopted and there will be an ongoing requirement to collect and analyse economic data as part of the annual TAC setting process.

Desired Outcomes: The analysis of economic data collected in the fishery will assist with incorporating economic data into the annual TAC setting process and, as a result, meet the economic objectives of the Harvest Strategy Policy.

Contacts: 

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Lara Ainley

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5373

Email: lara.ainley [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Annual monitoring, reporting and assessment of marine mammal interactions, including effectiveness of mitigation measures

Project Need: When there is fishing effort in the SPF, there is a need to ensure that marine mammal bycatch data are collected and assessed. This should include:

  1. Synthesis of existing information on marine mammal interactions in the SPF to examine how operational and environmental factors influence interaction rates.
  2. Development of appropriate reporting protocols for marine mammal interactions, including key operational and environmental factors, for observers and industry to support on-going assessment and reporting of interactions.
  3. Analysis and comparison between different data sources (i.e. EM, observer data and logbook data) to determine congruence of multiple monitoring strategies.

The research will support the management of the fishery by increasing the understanding of marine mammal interactions. This will allow for appropriate marine mammal management mitigation measures to be put in place. This will assist in the review of the SPF Dolphin Strategy as well as the SPF Dolphin Mitigation Plans.

Desired Outcomes: These analyses are intended to provide the basis for recommended modifications to fishing practices and the design or improvement of mitigation devices.

Contacts: 

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Lara Ainley

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5373

Email: lara.ainley [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Collection of adult samples for blue mackerel east

Project Need: At its meeting in December 2020, the SPFRAG highlighted the need to collect adult blue mackerel in order to obtain parameters used to calculate stock biomass. Currently, the adult parameters from this stock are derived from other similar species.

Adult blue mackerel samples will be collected to collect information concerning spawning faction and batch fecundity.

By completing this research the adult parameters for the DEPM survey of the blue mackerel (east) stock would no longer be derived from alternative species.  This will provide a more robust and accurate stock assessment and ensure confidence in setting of TACs for this stock.

Desired Outcomes: The key parameters in the DEPM survey that need to be collected are the spawning fraction and batch fecundity.

The research will provide accurate values for both of these parameters, as well as provide future researchers with a cost efficient methodology to collect these data.

Contacts: 

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Lara Ainley

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5373

Email: lara.ainley [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Non-extractive survey methodology for establishing eastern gemfish index of abundance

Project Need: The primary index of abundance for eastern gemfish (a rebuilding species) was based on catch per unit of effort (CPUE) for the winter spawning aggregation off the east coast of New South Wales. This index has been compromised because of fisher behaviour and avoidance – a requirement under the rebuilding strategy.

Establishing an alternative index of abundance is critical to allow AFMA to measure the performance of the rebuilding strategy, and continue to implement management arrangements to rebuild the stock.

In the absence of a reliable index of abundance, AFMA will be unable to monitor the status of the stock, and effectively determine whether the management arrangements under the rebuilding strategy are promoting recovery of the stock.

A non-extractive approach is preferred, to avoid unnecessary mortality of a rebuilding species.

Desired Outcomes: Establishing an alternative index of abundance for eastern gemfish is critical to allow AFMA to measure the performance of the rebuilding strategy, and continue to implement management arrangements to rebuild the stock.

Contacts: 

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Dan Corrie

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5487

Email: dan.corrie [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au

Orange roughy (Cascade) Acoustic Survey 2022

Project Need: AFMA provides recommendations to the AFMA Commission regarding annual Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for quota species in the SESSF based on the outcomes of quantitative or qualitative stock assessments – the key outputs are estimates of biomass (or a proxy), and Recommended Biological Catches (RBCs).

The last formal stock assessment for orange roughy on the Cascade Plateau was in 2009 using revised data to 2005. Based on this assessment the biomass of orange roughy in 2011 was estimated to be at 63 per cent of unfished levels. The low catches and reduced fishing effort between 2006 and 2019 have limited the information flow from this fishery.

Since the assessment, catches on the Cascade Plateau have been low until 212 t was caught in the 2020-21 season. An acoustic survey was completed in June 2021 to collect data, including biologicals, to support a future stock assessment.

The proposed 2022 acoustic survey will add to the time series of data, including the survey undertaken in 2021, as key inputs to a future stock assessment.

Desired Outcomes: An acoustically derived estimate of abundance and biological samples, in addition to those collected in 2021, to inform a future stock assessment and ensure a sustainable TAC can be set for the Cascade Plateau orange roughy stock.

Contacts: 

Fiona Hill

Senior Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5473

Email: fiona.hill [at] afma.gov.au

Dan Corrie

Manager, Demersal and Midwater Fisheries

Phone: 02 6225 5487

Email: dan.corrie [at] afma.gov.au

Natalie Couchman

Research Manager

Phone: 02 6225 5382

Email: research.secretary [at] afma.gov.au