Sustainable Wild Fisheries

Theme Leader Colin Simpfendorfer

The Sustainable Wild Fisheries 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.

Our Research Focus

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.

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 bycatch 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

Current Research Projects

  • 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

Our Team

Portrait of Colin Simpfendorfer

Theme Leader

Prof. Colin Simpfendorfer, Director

Portrait of Dean Jerry

Dean Jerry

Portrait of Marcus Sheaves

Marcus Sheaves

Portrait of Jan Strugnell

Jan Strugnell

Portrait o Kyall Zenger

Kyall Zenger

Portrait of Andrew Chin

Andrew Chin

Portrait of Michelle Heupel

Michelle Heupel

Richard Saunders

Richard Saunders

Portrait of Catarina Silva

Catarina Silva

Portrait of Lynn Van Herwerden

Lynne Van Herwerden

Our Students

Leotine Baje

Leontine Baje

Ana Barbosa Martins

Ana Barbosa Martins

Stacey Bierwagen

Stacy Bierwagen

Madie Cooper

Madalyn Cooper

Michael Grant

Michael Grant

Samantha Sherman

Samantha Sherman