This project aims to assess the vulnerability of and risks to habitats in Australian fisheries in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)/Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) of the Southern Ocean to impacts by different demersal gears - trawl, longline and traps. The project which is a collaborative initiative between the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the Australian Fisheries Management ... Authority (AFMA), industry and research partners, and substantially funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, was developed in order to resolve outstanding questions relating to the potential impacts and sustainability of demersal fishing practices in the AFZ at Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (HIMI). It will also help resolve similar outstanding questions for other fisheries in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in which Australian industry participates and provide technology for use in other fisheries to address similar questions.
The proposed project will assess the degree to which demersal gears interact with and possibly damage benthic habitats. It will also assess the degree to which these habitats might be damaged within the AFZ in the HIMI region. The project is not intended to estimate rates of recovery of benthic habitats following damage by demersal gears. However, information from the literature on rates of recovery of different benthic species and habitats will be used to assess the risks of long-term sustainability of these habitats.
Objectives To develop deep sea camera technologies that can be easily deployed during fishing operations, to facilitate widespread observations of demersal fishing activities (trawl, longline and trap) and their interactions with benthic environments.
To assess the vulnerability of benthic communities in Sub-Antarctic (Australian AFZ) and high latitude areas of the Southern Ocean (Australian EEZ) to demersal fishing using trawls, long-lines or traps, using video and still camera technologies.
To assess the risk of demersal fishing to long-term sustainability of benthic communities in these areas, based on the assessment of vulnerability and information from the literature on potential recovery of benthic species and habitats.
To recommend mitigation strategies by avoidance or gear modification, where identified to be needed, and practical guidelines to minimise fishing impacts on benthic communities.
Target Outcomes 1. Assessment of the vulnerability of benthic habitats and species to damage by demersal fishing practices, based on field observations and experiments.
2. Assessment of risks from demersal fishing to the sustainability of benthic habitats based on field work and knowledge from the literature on recovery of different types of benthic species and habitats.
3. Modifications, as needed, to either fishery management or fishery practices in the HIMI and/or other Southern Ocean fisheries resulting in long-term sustainability of benthic habitats.
4. Improved knowledge of the distribution and species composition of marine benthic ecosystems in the Australian EEZ.
5. Video and still camera technologies that can be easily used by AFMA Observers and marine research institutions (both domestic and international) investigating the interactions of demersal gears (trawls, longlines and traps) with benthic environments.
Notes from the Word document written by Kirrily Moore:
The original core of the database (ie the taxa tree) was copied from a similar taxonomic database at CSIRO Marine Research in late 2005. At the time I was just starting to sort the benthic samples obtained in the cruise Southern Champion 26 (SC26) which formed the main part of the assessment of the conservation values of the HIMI Conservation Zones. There wasn't a database immediately available and applicable to the species or taxa I was likely to encounter so we (Tim Lamb and I) sourced the taxa tree and all the taxonomic hierarchy from CSIRO as a starting point. Tim then designed the forms and tables for the cruise, haul and sample details based on the existing FishLog database. There are many species in the taxa tree which are not Antarctic or sub-Antarctic, they were simply already in the taxa tree when we obtained the sanctioned copy. The database is a work in progress which has developed as Tim has responded to my requests for changes. The demands of the database have changed in the last few months as we've been working through the backlog of invertebrate taxa in the freezer. It has extended from the original cruise (SC26) to many cruises and thus now includes pelagic invertebrates more commonly associated with fishing gear (rather than purely benthic taxa collected in beam trawls and benthic sleds).
The download file includes an access database and a word document detailing some information about the database. A folder containing photos that needs to be associated with the database is also available, but as it is over 3 GB in size, it is not available as a download, but will be available on request to the AADC (once this dataset is publicly available).
Taken from the 2009-2010 Progress Report: Project objectives:
1/ To develop deep sea camera technologies that can be easily deployed during fishing operations, to facilitate widespread observations of demersal fishing activities (trawl, longline and trap) and their interactions with benthic environments.
2/ To assess the vulnerability of benthic communities in Sub-Antarctic (Australian AFZ) and high latitude areas of the Southern Ocean (Australian EEZ) to demersal fishing using trawls, long-lines or traps, using video and still camera technologies.
3/ To assess the risk of demersal fishing to long-term sustainability of benthic communities in these areas, based on the assessment of vulnerability and information from the literature on potential recovery of benthic species and habitats.
4/ To recommend mitigation strategies by avoidance or gear modification, where identified to be needed, and practical guidelines to minimise fishing impacts on benthic communities.
Progress against objectives: 1/ Progress against objective 1 is well advanced. Underwater camera system units have been developed, refined and are currently deployed on commercial vessels fishing in the subantarctic.
2/ Progress against objective 2 is well advanced. Underwater camera system units, beam trawls and benthic sleds have been used to assess the types and distribution of benthic habitats in the sub-Antarctic and in high latitude areas of the Southern Ocean. Theoretical and empirical analyses of the resistance of key habitat-forming benthic invertebrates to impact from demersal fishing gear is ongoing. This will form the basis of an assessment of the vulnerability of the various habitat types to demersal fishing operations.
3/ Progress against objective 3 is ongoing. Theoretical analysis of the resilience of key habitat-forming benthic invertebrates to impact from varying levels of demersal fishing pressure is ongoing. Analysis of current fishing effort and future fishing scenarios is ongoing. The risk of fishing to the sustainability of benthic communities in these areas will be assessed from their vulnerability to impact, their resilience or ability to recovery from impact, and from current and potential future patterns of demersal fishing.
3/ Progress against objective 4 is ongoing. Analysis of in-situ video footage of commercial and simulated demersal fishing operations captured with the underwater camera systems, with reference to factors such as depth, habitat type, wind, sea-state, current and gear configuration is revealing strategies for mitigating and minimising the impact of demersal fishing.
Notes from the word document written by Kirrily Moore
Problems Main Menu - Set cruise context doesn't work yet
Taxa tree - Taxa entered at any level higher than genus (eg you only know the family) must include the parent in the names. For example the identification is ... Polynoidae sp1 so rather than entering a species 'sp1' under the parent Polynoidae, you must enter the species 'Polynoidae sp1' under the parent Polynoidae. - When the taxa context is set, if you try to see the taxonomic details of any taxa outside the context the taxonomic details form comes up blank.
Sampling Events form - None of the linking buttons eg new haul, find haul or sample composition are functional yet. - The only way to enter a new cruise is enter it in the back end of the db ie to open the cruise table, the cruise number is a direct copy from the FishLog database - The only way to enter a new haul is to enter it in the backend of the database ie open the 'haul' table and enter it there. The haul id number is the cruise number (eg SC26 is cruise 68) plus one or two zeros (depending on how many digits in the haul number) then the haul number (ie haul number 152 from SC26 is 680152). - The only way to find a cruise or particular haul is to scroll through
Sample Composition Form - The only way to view the contents of a particular haul is to scroll through - The scaling factor is now defunct and should not be adjusted for the SC26 cruise. It's only relevant if quantitative subsampling was done. - If you enter a specimen at just the genus level (eg Paralomis rather than Paralomis spA) you will encounter a few problems such as the sample processing form doesn't work
Things that would improve the database
- The cruise context on the main menu - The find haul or cruise button in the sampling events form - A way to be able to find the exact haul you are after in the sample composition form without having to scroll through - Revamp the queries - A drop down menu for taxonomists in the taxa tree
Read Me explanations
Cruise codes are the letters for the vessel then the number of the cruise for that vessel SC= Southern Champion AA= Aurora Australis AL= Austral Leader Pakura= Pakura Nella = Nella Dan SiL = Sil
Fishing Ground numbers are not really used here and any that are in the database are coming from the FishLog database = Area Codes table in the database.
Weight is in grams
Gear types are different sorts of fishing gear from the FishLog database = see Gear table in the database.
This metadata record was written by staff at the Australian Antarctic Data Centre in consultation with the investigators and technical contacts of this project.
Taken from the 2009-2010 Progress Report: Field work: Field work for this project is well advanced. Sampling of benthic habitats was conducted off East Antarctica from the AA in the summer season of 2009/10. Sampling yielded biological samples and camera footage over a number of sites spread across a large section of the East Antarctic coast and across a range of benthic habitats. The camera units are currently deployed on commercial vessels fishing the sub-Antarctic. The close of the 2010 commercial fishing season in September 2010 will mark the conclusion of field activities for this project.
Laboratory activity/analysis: Laboratory work in the project is well advanced and will be complete by the end of 2010. Sorting of benthic samples including the identification (to taxa level), preservation,and archiving of samples has been conducted on commercial fishing vessels, at the Museum of Victoria, in the invertebrate lab at AAD Kingston and in the wet lab on board Aurora Australis. Development and construction work has also been conducted in the electronics lab at AAD Kingston.
Records within the Australian Antarctic Territory are available from the biodiversity database http://data.aad.gov.au/aadc/biodiversity/ from SCAR-MarBIN, OBIS and GBIF. Records from non-research voyages and near Heard Island are not yet available. When available, the data will include an access database and a word document detailing some information about the database as a download file. A folder containing photos that needs to be associated with the database is also available, but as it is over 3 GB in size, it is not available as a download, but will be available on request to the AADC.