Final Report 2013-064-DLD Small Pelagics Research Co-ordination Program
The Small Pelagics Research Co-ordination Program (SPRCP) was established to ensure that small pelagic fisheries R&D was co-ordinated, made the most efficient use of available resources, and integrated key stakeholders including industry, government and research providers.
Principle Investigator: Professor Colin Buxton
Key words: small pelagic fish, forage fish, Jack Mackerel trachurus declivis, Redbait emmelichthys nitidus, Blue Mackerel scomber australasicus, Australian Sardine sardinops sagax, maine mammal interactions, factory trawling
Summary: The Small Pelagics Research Co-ordination Program (SPRCP) was established to ensure that small pelagic fisheries R&D conducted by the FRDC was coordinated, made the most efficient use of available resources, and integrated key stakeholders including industry, government and research providers.
Small pelagic fish form an important link between primary and secondary producers and higher predagors including tunas, seabirds and marine mammals. they also form some of the world's largest pelagic fisheries in the upwelling regions around the world. In Australia, despite our waters being relatively less productive, small pelagics support valuable localised fisheries for species such as sardines, anchovy and makerels.
The introduction of large factory trawlers into the Small Pelagic Fishery revealed a significant lack of confidence and level of public distrust in the science and management of small pelagics in Commonwealth waters. This included debate over the stock status and assessment method and highlighted a need to increase our understanding of small pelagic fisheries and to better communicate this knowledge to the community and other stakeholders.
The aim of the Co-ordination Program was to build confidence in the science underpinning the sustainability of small pelagic fisheries in Australia.
This was achieved through a series of high profile workshops that included broad stakeholder engagement across industry, community, government and research, media reports and articles, and the completion of several major research projects. Research contributed significantly to the understanding of the stock status of target species in the Small Pelagic Fishery (SPF), while an international expert forum suggested that the assessment and management frameworks for Australia's fisheries for small pelagic species, especially the South Australian Sardine Fishery (SASF), were consisten with the world best practice.
Despite this there remains a considerable lack of community support for SPF and more needs to be done to build social acceptance in this fishery and to counter misinformation about the sustainability of small pelagic fisheries in Australia.