AUSTRALIAN crab and rock lobster fisheries will soon be even more sustainable thanks to some recent innovative findings by Jesse Leland, from Southern Cross University in NSW.
In other lobster news, the 8th Trans Tasman Rock Lobster Congress is in Sydney this week, hosted by the NSW Lobster Association and sponsored by the Department of Primary Industries.
The research, which allows an accurate determination of the age of crabs, rock lobsters and other crustaceans, has earned Mr Leland the 2013 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, offered by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.
“The idea actually came from my colleague who was fascinated by the usefulness of gastric ossicles (stomach bones) for identifying different species of crustaceans,” Jesse Leland explains. “We were pleasantly surprised, when I sectioned some, to find that they contained growth marks”.
Crustaceans are usually very difficult to age as they grow by moulting their outer layer. From a fisheries management perspective, a lack of age information makes it difficult to assess how changing environmental factors may affect growth.
Now, thanks to this new technique, normal growth patterns can be studied and this will provide a benchmark against which to measure possible changes in the future.
Jesse Leland will use his $16,000 award to apply his ageing methodology to two commercially and recreationally important Australian crustaceans, beginning with red claw crayfish and mud crab.
“I chose red claw as an ideal model species for developing ageing protocols, which can then be applied to mud crab. But this is just the beginning. In the future, I hope to age many other Australian crustaceans, starting with the most economically important and potentially long-lived species”, says Mr Leland.
The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) invests in Science for Sustainability. The FRDC is a co-funded partnership between, the Australian Government and the fishing industry.
Rock lobster congress to hit Sydney
Lobster stakeholders and industry specialists from across Australia and New Zealand meanwhile will converge on Sydney for the 8th Trans Tasman Rock Lobster Congress this Sunday, Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, said today.
“The three-day event will provide an excellent opportunity for industry stakeholders and bodies to engage with peers and specialists and gain some additional insights relevant to the industry across Australia and New Zealand,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“The congress, organised by the NSW Lobster Association and sponsored by the Department of Primary Industries, will be attended by lobster stakeholders and industry specialists from Australia and New Zealand.
“The NSW lobster fishery extends from the Queensland border to the Victorian border and is an important part of our vibrant seafood industry.”
Ms Hodgkinson said the lobster fishery was a boutique, high-value industry, worth about $8 million to the NSW economy each year.
Fisheries NSW executive director, Dr Geoff Allan, said a number of world class speakers will present an interesting and varied range of topics of relevance to the rock lobster industries of Australia and New Zealand.
“These include fishing, science, innovation in industry, meeting new challenges with confidence, future directions, export trade and business planning of profitable harvest strategies,” Dr Allan said.
“There will also be trade displays and a wharf-side display of NSW lobster vessels, gear and electronics.”
Scott Westley from the NSW Lobster Association and the NSW Lobster Fishery Working Group said the conference is a chance for lobster specialists from Australia and New Zealand to discuss new services and technology for the lobster industry.
“The event will be informative and informal – there’ll be plenty of chances for delegates to mingle amongst a wide and varied range of talks and workshops,” Mr Westley said.
The conference will be held from September 1-3 at Four Points by Sheraton, Darling Harbour.
To register, visit www.etouches.com/lobster2013