Study to learn more about salmon

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers are studying the biology, population and catch composition of eastern Australian salmon to work out how best to manage stocks of the fish in NSW waters.

DPI fisheries scientist Dr John Stewart said the species was acknowledged as being under-utilised.

“Anecdotal information indicates that the population size and distribution has expanded considerably in recent years,” Dr Stewart said.

However there was an “almost total lack of information” on which to base management decisions.

“The three-year $624,000 study now under way will seek firstly to determine whether eastern Australian salmon found in NSW are part of the same stock of fish that occur in Victorian and Tasmanian waters.

“This information will help in determining whether salmon should be managed separately by each state or collaboratively.

“Research will also be done along the entire NSW coast to gather new information on the biology of the eastern Australian salmon.

“Aspects to be studied include how fast the salmon grow, when and where they breed, where they move and what they eat.”

Commercial and some recreational fishers claim that the salmon are preying on vast quantities of baitfish, such as garfish and pilchards, as well as other commercially important species such as whiting.

Dr Stewart said the study aimed to provide managers with information to assist decision-making regarding the status of the stock, potential expansion of the commercial fishery and the effects on the ecosystem of an expanding salmon population.

“The research also involves investigating the importance of salmon to Aboriginal people in NSW,” he said.

“This research will be undertaken in collaboration with Associate Professor Stephan Schnierer at Southern Cross University.”

Funding for the project has been provided by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, the NSW Saltwater Recreational Fishing Trust and DPI.