The Queensland Government has announced it will use underwater cameras to aid research into potentially threaten fish species such as juvenile pearl perch, teraglin and snapper.
The underwater cameras are being used in offshore waters outside Moreton Bay in depths of up to 100 metres and will allow researchers to assess the numbers of juvenile fish, identify important habits and provide further estimates of biomass.
Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin, said this method for fish monitoring was a first for Fisheries Queensland.
"This information is important in understanding the status of these fish stocks as well as increasing our understanding of the ecology of these species,” Mulherin said. "This research method is environmentally-friendly with minimal impact on both habitat and fish.”
According to Mulherin, the cameras will be important in gaining information about the species, most importantly, to ensure fishing rules and practices are sufficient in protecting fish stock.
Commenting on a recent Stock Report, Mulherin said that snapper was showing at less than 35 per cent of its unfished levels – internationally, if fish stocks are at 40 per cent or less of their unfished levels, the species is recognised as ‘overfished’.
"This means snapper in Queensland is being harvested at unsustainable level," he said.
"This is alarming and we will need to take steps to reduce fishing pressure on this stock to ensure its future sustainability.”
Fisheries Queensland fisheries biologist, Dr Wayne Sumpton, said the research had already started to provide some results.
"It's early days but we are able to compare fish numbers at different locations like deep gravelly and rocky reef areas which we haven't been able to reach before," Sumpton said.
"This project will be of great use for assessing snapper and other fish stocks where we hope to better understand where juveniles congregate."