Fisheries technology

Research focus

The Fisheries Technology program is responsible for developing, assessing and implementing best-practice technologies throughout NSW’s marine and estuarine fisheries that mitigate unwanted or collateral fishing mortalities and environmental impacts. The program consistently addresses three key DPI pillars: (1) ‘sustainable resources’ (e.g. reduced ecological impacts of fishing); (2) ‘response capacity’ (e.g. fishing technology to mitigate shark bites); and (3) ‘increasing the value “of primary industries’ (e.g. zero waste via reduced collateral fishing mortalities).

Current projects

Improving and promoting fish-trawl selectivity in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector (CTS) and Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (GABTS) of the Southern and Eastern Shark and Scalefish Fishery (SESSF)

This four-year project funded by NSW DPI and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation of the Australian government aims to assess, refine and encourage the adoption of industry-developed bycatch reduction technologies for Australian fish trawls, while maintaining target catches. Project Lead: Matt Broadhurst

Refining and promoting technologies to reduce bycatch and habitat impacts while increasing efficiencies throughout NSW fisheries

NSW DPI and some commercial fishers have made substantial investments towards developing technical modifications to various fishing gears, and especially prawn trawls, to mitigate bycatches and/or habitat impacts and/or improve efficiencies. The outcomes of these investments are being realized via the refinement and promotion of relevant modifications among key fisheries during a four-year project. Project Lead: Matt Broadhurst

Reducing unwanted catch and environmental impacts of the NSW Shark Meshing (bather protection) Program (SMP)

The NSW SMP has been delineated a ‘key threatening process’ for several marine species. The project is using state-of-the-art genetic tools and technology to determine how sharks interact with bather-protection nets and their post-release survival, whilst trialling new tools to reduce bycatch. Project Lead: Victor Peddemors

Sustainable shark fisheries

Sharks are notoriously easy to overfish, yet they comprise substantial catch in NSW waters. This project incorporates innovative technologies to determine the biology and movements of caught elasmobranchs, plus the survival of released unwanted catches and the impacts of fishing on shark and ray populations. Project Lead: Victor Peddemors

Mitigating shark-human interactions in NSW waters

This project seeks to better understand factors influencing shark-human interactions and, incorporating this insight, use new technologies to increase protection for bathers from shark interactions while minimising harm to sharks or other animals. Aerial surveillance includes trials of drones, blimps and helicopters. In-water surveillance incorporates testing of eDNA, sonar, real time detection and communication of tagged sharks using specialized (VR4G) listening stations. Technologies for deterring of sharks include various personal deterrents, SMART drumlines, physical and electrical barriers, and necromones. Project Lead: Paul Butcher

Knowledge on the biology, movement, behaviour and environmental drivers of target shark species to reduce risk of negative human-shark interactions

This multi-faceted project aims to quantify the populations sizes, long-term movement patterns and diets of white, tiger and bull sharks to better understand their ecology and risk of interactions with humans. Project Lead: Paul Butcher

Key publications

Kennelly, S.J., and Broadhurst, M.K. (2021) A review of bycatch reduction in demersal fish trawls. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish. 31, 289–318. doi: 10.1007/s11160-021-09644-0

Tate, R.D., Kelaher, B.P., Brand, C.P., Gallen, C.R., Smith, S.D.A., and Butcher, P.A. (2021) Shark behaviour and marine faunal assemblage beneath SMART drumlines Fish Res 243 doi:ARTN 106102 10.1016/j.fishres.2021.106102

Butcher, P.A., et al. (2021) The Drone Revolution of Shark Science: A Review Drones-Basel 5 doi:ARTN 8.10.3390/drones5010008

Niella, Y., Peddemors, V.M., Green, M., Smoothey, A.F., and Harcourt, R (2021) “Wicked Problem” Reconciling Human-Shark Conflict, Shark Bite Mitigation, and Threatened Species. Frontiers in Conservation Science 2:720741

Butcher, P.A., Piddocke, T.P., Colefax, A.P., Hoade, B., Peddemors, V.M., Borg, L., Cullis, B.R. (2019) Beach safety: can drones provide a platform for sighting sharks? Wildlife Res 46:701-712 doi:10.1071/Wr18119