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Aquaculture Research

Aquaculture Research is led by Wayne O'Connor and our research is based at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute , Taylors Beach, NSW. The Aquaculture Research team have some of Australia’s most extensive and modern research facilities and highly skilled staff to provide the capacity to undertake large-scale production of a wide range of aquatic species.

Research directions are developed in consultation with representatives from industry through the Aquaculture Research Advisory Committee. Key program areas include:

  • Molluscan Research, to support NSW shellfish industries
  • Fish Nutrition, to develop diets to more effectively produce nutritious seafood
  • Fish Production and Enhancement: to promote the development of fin fish production and support Fisheries’ restocking efforts.

Freshwater Ecosystems Research

Freshwater Ecosystems Research (FER) delivers information, insights and innovations to empower the conservation, recovery and wise use of freshwater fish and their habitats in NSW. FER is led by Dr Katherine Cheshire. This  research helps stimulate and secure thriving freshwater fish populations, sustainable and enjoyable fishing, and healthy, vibrant and productive regional communities, with national and international benefits.

FER operates across three key research themes that capture a diverse and evolving range of research projects.:

Aquatic Biosecurity

Aquatic biosecurity is about protecting the economy, human health and the environment from aquatic pests, diseases and saltwater weeds.

Introduced aquatic pests and diseases threaten the plants and animals of NSW waterways by damaging the natural balance of aquatic ecosystems. To help reduce the spread of pests and diseases and enable early detection to support effective management action where needed, everyone needs to practice good biosecurity.

We all have a role to play in managing aquatic biosecurity risks in NSW. Anyone accessing our waterways can help keep aquatic environments healthy and free from pests.

Legislation underpinning Aquatic Biosecurity Management, including the general biosecurity duty we are all required to act under, is listed here.

More information:

Aquatic Habitat Management

Board walkIt’s a simple equation. If we want to catch fish and to enjoy our natural environment we must all look after our aquatic habitats.

In the past we did not value these habitats and they do not stay in good condition when under pressure. Many have been lost or degraded to the point where they no longer support healthy and diverse populations of fish.Fewer fish and fewer fish species is not good news for our environment or our economy.


NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is the agency responsible for implementing the Fisheries Management Act 1994. In terms of habitat management, this means we are involved in conserving fish populations and protecting fish habitats, conserving threatened species, populations and communities of fish and marine plants and promoting ecologically sustainable development.

The NSW Government and the community recognise the need for a proactive and strategic approach to the use and conservation of aquatic habitats. There are many things that need to be done to manage aquatic habitats, and the resources they provide, in an ecologically sustainable way. Learn more about Aquatic Habitats here.

Fisheries Resource Assessment

Fish stocks are influenced by many natural factors and by various human activities, the most direct of which is fishing. Fisheries Resource Assessment (FRA) unit is primarily responsible for monitoring the performance of fisheries and fished stocks and determining their status. This is undertaken through the collection and analyses of fishery-dependent and independent data from across all fishing sectors to include in stock assessment reports and develop and report against successful, state and nationally competitive research projects.

Research activities carried out by the group underpin fisheries management arrangements including size and bag limits, total allowable catches, gear types, spatial and temporal access by fishing sectors, stock enhancement including artificial reefs and the development of harvest strategies to ensure the sustainable harvest of the State’s wild capture fisheries.

The team  commonly work closely with stakeholders including commercial and recreational fishers, operating at sea on vessels in the Ocean Trawl Fishery, on beaches and in estuaries with fishers in the Estuary General Fishery, at fish co-ops up and down the NSW coast and at every boat ramp and coastal access point where the staff work at engaging with the general public.

There are five research themes:PS bouys

Freshwater Ecosystems Research

Baroturma Lab

Freshwater Ecosystems Research (FER) delivers information, insights and innovations to empower the conservation, recovery and wise use of freshwater fish and their habitats in NSW. FER is led by Dr Katherine Cheshire. This  research helps stimulate and secure thriving freshwater fish populations, sustainable and enjoyable fishing, and healthy, vibrant and productive regional communities, with national and international benefits.

FER operates across three key research themes that capture a diverse and evolving range of research projects.:

Marine Ecosystems

The Marine Ecosystems Unit delivers scientific information to enable biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of the NSW Marine Estate – including the Marine, Estuarine and Coastal systems.

Marine and Coastal environments are hugely valued by all Australians but are facing increasing human pressures. The Marine Ecosystem Unit responds to these values and challenges by researching environmental condition, monitoring threats and pressures and filling knowledge gaps to inform the management of our Marine, Estuarine and Coastal Environments.

Our enabling activities include:

  • assessing the condition and functioning of habitats and populations
  • measuring ecosystem stressors (pressures and impacts)
  • assessing effectiveness of management actions and interventions
  • developing and applying innovative cutting edge technologies
  • identifying social, cultural and economic issues and values.

Our research programs inform current and future policy, planning, rapid operational decision-making and restoration.


Work with Us

If you are interested in collaborative opportunities with Port Stephens Fisheries Institute then please use this Request for Opportunity Form.

Request for Opportunity form