CSTFA Our Research Fisheries Science and Human Dimensions

Fisheries Science and Human Dimensions

Over 200 million people rely on fish for their livelihoods and fish is the key source of protein for billions worldwide. By 2050, some 50% of the world’s population and close to 60% of the world’s children are expected to reside in the tropics. The resources required to sustain larger populations and economic growth in this region are putting significant and increasing pressures on the natural environment. CSTFA has a range of programmes that look at wild fisheries and how to make them sustainable and manage them for the benefit not only of the people that fish them, but also for the people that consume them.

The Fisheries Science and Human Dimensions team within the CSTFA are world-leaders in the sustainable development of tropical aquatic resources. Researchers work to maximise the social, environmental and economic benefits of wild fisheries and ensure the long-term sustainability of aquatic resources in Australia and the tropics worldwide. Our expertise includes studying the life history and ecology of commercially and recreationally important fish and shark species to determine the effects of fishing on fish populations and ecosystems.

The sustainable use and production of aquatic resources can only occur if emerging biophysical and technological knowledge is effectively translated into management action. Resilient, adaptive, and receptive societies are essential for achieving this goal. Understanding the broader social context, including how people perceive, value, and use aquatic resources is therefore key to ensuring sustainability through the effective uptake of new science and technology.

Our research examines the benefits from wild capture fisheries through fishery assessments, understanding the biology and ecology of target, byproduct and bycatch species, and animal health and environmental monitoring. Research in this area has focused on species such as: sharks (both fishery and bycatch/non target), coral trout, spanish mackerel, sawfish and stingrays.

Specialty expertise areas:

  • Life history and ecology of target and by-catch species
  • Spatial ecology of coastal and coral reef fishes, particularly sharks and rays
  • Contribution of marine protected areas to managing and conserving mobile marine predators
  • Ecology of estuaries and coastal wetland ecosystems, in particular nursery ground function
  • Evolutionary and population genetics of aquatic species
  • Seascape and population genomics,
  • Threatened, endangered and protected species assessment
  • Analytical tools for acoustic monitoring studies

JCU researchers work closely with commercial, recreational, charter and indigenous fishers, and provide advice on management of fished resources to relevant management agencies locally, nationally and internationally. JCU staff hold key positions on national and international advisory panels and management bodies actively advising policy and management. JCU’s location provides for close links with world leading marine and fisheries research and management agencies, and with fishing industry groups. JCU staff hold key positions on national and international advisory panels and management bodies such as the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and government reference groups, actively advising policy and management

Dr Andrew Chin

E andrew.chin@jcu.edu.au P +61 7 4781 4486

James Cook University is internationally recognised for its strength in interdisciplinary research that improves the lives of people living in the tropics through the effective management and conservation of coastal and marine environments. The sustainable use and production of aquatic resources can only occur if emerging biophysical and technological knowledge is effectively translated into management action. Resilient, adaptive, and receptive societies are essential for achieving this goal. Understanding the broader social context, including how people perceive, value, and use aquatic resources is therefore key to ensuring sustainability through the effective uptake of new science and technology.

The Human Dimensions team have highly developed skills in socio-cultural and economic aspects of natural aquatic resource use and farmed production. Through interdisciplinary collaboration across our themes, the Centre can provide complete triple bottom line assessment of the full spectrum of aquatic food and product production, identify adaptation benefits for the aquatic food production sector, and build the resilience of linked social and ecological systems.

The Human Dimensions team collaborate closely with staff from other themes to implement interdisciplinary research aimed at improving the lives of people through effective management and conservation of coastal and marine resources. Topics include the sustainability of fishers, producers, industries and communities involved in aquatic food production; how to deal with change in fisheries and aquaculture to ensure aquatic food security; and identification of adaptation strategies in coastal communities. Research projects span Australia, Melanesia, Southeast Asia and South America.

Dr Amy Diedrich

E amy.diedrich@jcu.edu.au P +61 7 4781 4627

Wild Fisheries

  • Maximising outcomes for shark and ray MPAs
  • Examining coral reef carrying capacity and trophic roles of grey reef sharks in the central Great Barrier Reef
  • JCU - AIMS Shark Collaboration
  • Life history attributes data for deepwater sharks ecological risk assessment
  • Global Shark and Ray Initiative (activity support)
  • Shark Rapid Assessment Toolkit
  • Sustainable management of the shark resources of Papua New Guinea: socioeconomic and biological characteristics of the fishery
  • Global Shark and Ray Initiative - Quickstart projects
  • A Report Card for Australia's Sharks and Rays
  • Investigating mussel population declines in Yuku Baja Muliku Country
  • Identification and Restoration of Intertidal Fish Nursery Habitat in the Baffle Catchment
  • Sustainable Management of Sport Fisheries for Communities in Papua New Guinea
  • Lost at sea? Understanding adaptation and dispersal in spiny lobsters

Human Dimensions

  • Factors that influence the interest and commitment of local communities to conservation in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
  • Evaluating factors that influence the success of community-based marine protected areas in the Philippines
  • Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous cultural values be utilised in contemporary fisheries management effectively?
  • Understanding barriers and opportunities for sustained benefits from inland pond aquaculture in the Solomon Islands.
  • Maximising Outcomes for Shark and Ray Marine Protected Areas in Myanmar

Fish for People, Fish for the Environment, Fish for the Future. For more information visit the F&F Lab website.

Support small-scale fishing communities in the tropics in meeting their livelihood goals through collaborative research and capacity building. For more information visit Livelihoods Lab website.