Recreational fishers wanted to monitor artificial reefs

May 13, 2015

Fish utilising the artificial reef off Dunsborough. Photo provided by Recfishwest.

Fish utilising the artificial reef off Dunsborough. Photo provided by Recfishwest.

Murdoch University researchers are looking for experienced recreational fishers to help them monitor the fish communities on artificial reefs off Bunbury and Dunsborough.

The fishers will be equipped with special cameras and monitors that allow them to see live action underwater and capture this action for scientists.

Interested fishers will be asked to capture around 15 minutes of footage on their local artificial reef and a nearby natural reef each month between now and the end of the year. Participants will be asked to deploy the cameras as part of their normal boating/fishing activities rather than making special trips and will not be liable for any damage done to the camera equipment.

“Monitoring the reefs is required to understand the numbers and types of fish that visit the reefs, how they change through time and how the types of fish found on the artificial reefs compare to those of nearby natural reefs,” said Dr James Tweedley, who is helping to run the monitoring project.

“The participants will also be helping us test whether recreational fishers can provide cost-effective monitoring of the fish communities on the reefs. To determine this we need to know if the footage gathered will provide us with the information we need, and whether the camera equipment is fit for the task.”

Tom Bateman, one of two Honours students who will be analysing the collected footage, said the artificial reefs were funded, in part, by recreational fishing license fees so it was important to understand whether they were being used by fish that could be caught by fishers, such as Silver Trevally, Samsonfish and Pink Snapper.

The cameras used in the study are attached to 50m long cables that are lowered into the sea above the reef. The camera is located inside tubing and can rotate 360 degrees, while the LCD monitor shows the fisher what fish are on the reef in real time.

To take part, fishers must have a minimum of a Western Australian Recreational Skipper’s Ticket and a suitable boat and safety equipment.

If you are interested in participating, please email Dr Tweedley on j.tweedley@murdoch.edu.au.

This project was made possible by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and supported by Recfishwest and the WA Department of Fisheries.

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