Jump to content

Tagging Project To Uncover The Secret Life Of ‘blu

Ken A

Recommended Posts

NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Scientists will tag and monitor the Blue Groper population off Sydney’s eastern beaches in a groundbreaking research project designed to learn more about the iconic fish species.

The $200,000 tagging project will be funded by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), with support from Waverley Council and Randwick City Council.

The project is part of an overall protection strategy for the Eastern Blue Groper, which is one of the state symbols for NSW.

The Blue Groper is regarded fondly by swimmers, divers and snorkellers due to its distinctive appearance and friendly nature, and has been banned from commercial fishing and sale since the mid 1980s.

In 2002 the NSW Government and Waverley and Randwick Councils joined together to declare the Bronte-Coogee Aquatic Reserve, which provides an extra level of protection for the fish by banning all forms of fishing for the species between Clovelly and Gordons Bay.

This new tagging and monitoring project will provide DPI scientists with a wealth of new information about the gropers’ movements, feeding patterns and other behaviour, which will help us build on existing protection measures.

Details of the research project include:

* Tagging up to 10 fish with state-of-the-art miniature acoustic transmitter tags

* Installing four acoustic listening stations in the waters in and near the aquatic reserve

* The tags emit a signal every 1-3 minutes which is picked up by the stations

* This allows each groper’s location and movement to be tracked

* The tags also have a depth sensor so the depth of each tagged fish can be recorded

* Temperature loggers will also provide continuous monitoring of water temperatures

In this way the date, time and depth of Blue Groper movements can be monitored in real time by our scientists over an 18 month period.

Similar research has been conducted by the State Government into the endangered grey nurse shark, which has yielded valuable new information on the species’ behaviour.

This has helped the State Government better plan for the grey nurse shark’s protection measures – we believe the Blue Groper tagging project will pay the same dividends.

As part of the agreement, the NSW Government will sign an operational agreement with Randwick and Waverley Councils, which will improve the co-operative management of the reserve and give council rangers greater powers to enforce fishing regulations.

A plan of management (POM) is being developed by the DPI, the councils and local community.

Randwick Mayor Murray Matson and Waverley Mayor Peter Moscatt said their councils were pleased to be involved with the project.

‘This is a significant step forward for the sustainable management of the Bronte-Coogee Aquatic Reserve, and is the first operational agreement and POM for an aquatic reserve in NSW,’ Mayor Matson said.

‘Clovelly Bay is well known as the home of ‘Bluey’ the groper, and is one of the best and safest places in Sydney to snorkel and catch a glimpse of these friendly fish.

‘The council hopes this critical tagging and monitoring project will ensure the future survival of this much-loved species.’

Mayor Moscatt said the aquatic reserve had become a haven for local marine life as well as an education and recreational asset for the local community.

‘The Blue Gropers along our coastline are loved by residents and visitors and Waverley Council is very pleased to be involved with a project which will help protect this iconic species,’ Cr Moscatt said.

‘We are particularly interested in finding out how far the fish travel as I have heard reports of sightings as far north as Ben Buckler in North Bondi.’

The tagging project is expected to begin in early October.

Blue groper facts

* The Eastern Blue Groper became the fish emblem for NSW in 1996

* It is found in coastal waters from Hervey Bay in QLD to Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria. A similar species of groper is found in the waters off SA and WA

* All juvenile Blue Gropers start life as females and are greyish-brown, brownish-green or green in colour

* As they mature they go through what is known as the ‘Initial Stage’ where they can change sex between male and female, depending on breeding needs

* The fish then enter the fully developed stage when their sex remains constant

* Only the males have the distinctive vivid blue colouring – the female fish are reddish-brown

* The male of the species can grow to one metre in length and can live for around 50 years

* Blue Gropers have been banned from commercial catch and sale in NSW since the 1980s, although hook and line recreational fishing is still permitted.

* The State Government is also proposing to introduce a minimum legal length of 30cm for recreational fishing to protect juvenile gropers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While its good to see projects regarding conservation of a species I will go out on a limb here and say id rather see the money spend on more important issues.

You dont need a $200 000.00 study to work out how to best conserve and protect the species, you've just got to stop taking them out of the water and they will be fine on their own. :wacko:

Seems a bit strange that the Blue Groper study is such a big thing and yet they are not protected from rec angling. If they were really concerned wouldnt they ban that first ?

All seems a bit sus to me as I cant really see much benefit from this study. Theres a squillion fisho's out there ready to put money back into the economy on gear to catch fish but you can spend an entire day on the Hawkesbury and not get a bite. Fix that instead !

Maybe im being a bit narrow minded but I just think there are more pressing issues to deal with.

Just my two bobs woths -- Cheers :biggrin2:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

200 grand???? What needs to be known about the groper?? They saved them years ago by banning spearing for them. Go for a dive at any headland and there are stacks of them everywhere! They also aren't taken in huge numbers because they are a lot of bloody effort. Absoloute waste of time when they should be looking at more important species that have NO measures of protection in place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Mainly to play the devils advocate I'll put in two cents to say it could be a good thing. Think to look at the idea too narrowly is wrong.

A quote from an earlier post.

"You dont need a $200 000.00 study to work out how to best conserve and protect the species, you've just got to stop taking them out of the water and they will be fine on their own.

Seems a bit strange that the Blue Groper study is such a big thing and yet they are not protected from rec angling. If they were really concerned wouldnt they ban that first ?"

Yes stop taking them out of the water and they'll be fine, if theres concern ban rec fishing first - I'm assuming this was a temporary lapse of reason and you didn't really mean it?

If there is a serious concern over a fish disappearing regulate those things with the biggest/significant impacts - whether thats commercial, spearo's, line fishers or something else entirely (like water extraction for freshwater species). I'm sure you meant impose bans/regulation only if they are needed/ likely to be effective with the most effort expended on activities with the biggest impacts.

Banning rec fishing I'm sure most here will agree is not neccesarily needed for blue wrasse. I am sure however some parts of waverly and coogge councillors / members of the community would like to ban fishing for blue wrasse.

I'm sure I could design a valuation system that put the value of the wrasse at Coogee at upwards of $10,000 per big fish - its certainly makes you feel like the money you spent on a dive is worthwhile when a big blue fish makes friends with you. So I'm sure theres political pressure to protect the species more.

If more is known about the species - perhaps it will be demonstratable to the sections of the community that not only is it unlikely that rec fishers will target /catch/keep the really big blue fish but that some forms of protection (like bigger aquatic reserves or a total ban on taking) are not needed to protect this speces. It could of coursework out the other way - but doubt it. - can't see why a minimum and maybe one day a maximum slot size limit shouldn't be ample for line fishers.

Anyway I might have totally got reason for the study totally wrong there are other reasons why the study could be good - like if australian researchers learn how to track fish in the detail possible from this technolgy - maybe it can be applied to other fish wihich have more "issues" - I think starting with an "easy" species to study (and if skeptical to get funding for) is a wise move before moving onto something tricker - got to learn to walk before you run.

see ya

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gday Drifter,

Think you may have missinterperated my last post perhaps. Im not saying ban it, im saying its not banned cause there is no need, therefore perhaps no need for this $200 000.00 study.

My point is if there is a real concern about the future of the Blue Groper to the extent they are prepared to spend 200 grand on a study, rec risho's would have been banned prior to this. Like Bashir said there is heaps of them around and you dont need a study to know that. It seems strange to spend money on a conservation study when there are other species dissapearing at a frightening rate from commercial pressure. Its just another political sidestep of the main issues, and Ronald Macdonald not wanting to upset his pro mates but still looked on to be spending money. These studies get a standing ovation from the Greens and do-gooders and keeps him in the hot seat.

Id just rather see the dollars put into more pressing issues like pro buyouts and have the most important issues dealt with first.

Like I said my comments are only from the perspective of improving the overall fishery and targeted fish stocks as a rec fisho, and it bugs me when I see our dollars put into "studies" of fish that are not really targeted by anyone and are more often a by-catch than anything, and are also not under threat from commercial pressure.

Id much rather be sitting in my boat knowing there are fish below me and in numbers than knowing there is 50 million Blue Groper off the rocks which no one fishes for anyway.

Good to get your perspective though mate. :biggrin2:

Iain help

Cheers :biggrin2:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More tinkering around the edges while Rome burns.

In the grand scheme of things $200k is not much money but I'd rather see $200k go to buying out a pro license. Don't be fooled. No other initiative even comes close to this as a priority. Take out the pros and the fishery will thrive and that is where the money should go.

In a perfect world sure, do the Groper study. But not at the expense of bigger ticket issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

G'day ,

GrantM glad you didn't get too miffed at my interpretation of your post - as I said was playing devils advocate a bit - suspected you weren't advocating banning rec fishing for blue groper/ wrasse.

Still to some extent you seem to have a slightly different philosophy to me, the followings taken from your last post

My point is if there is a real concern about the future of the Blue Groper to the extent they are prepared to spend 200 grand on a study, rec fisho's would have been banned prior to this

I'm think this resoning is flawed.

Try substituting "snapper" or "mulloway" for blue groper in the quote ie

My point is if there is a real concern about the future of snapper to the extent they are prepared to spend 200 grand on a study, rec risho's would have been banned prior to this

Does that demonstrate why I think your reasoning is flawed? I don't think studies should be done only on species where the fishery has collapsed to the extent rec fishing is banned - I'm sure you don't really either - Spending 200k on understanding mulloway or snapper I'm sure wouldn't offend most rec fishos if it was likely to provided more of them in the future.

I don't really have much difficulty with what your saying, to a large extent I think we probably have similar attitudes - I am also no great fan of how commercial fisheries have been managed.

To play the devils advocate though I see no problem with 200k going to study a fish that as you say is not rare enough to warrant rec fishing bans. Think thats entirely appropriate if the knoweldge gained is valuable enough.

The value of the studies a whole different arguement -

I don't really see myself disagreeing with what iain or yourself in a major way - money does have to be spent in ways that provide good bangs for bucks. I also think pro buyouts may return very good results "bang for buck" wise for saltwater fishers and I have no problem with the idea of funds being spent that way.

However I don't see scientific studies as always being "fiddling around the edges" Science is a neccesary part of responsible management. Think few dispute it - as to the value of this particular project - can't say don't know enough of the details.

I agree banning spearos from taking them pretty well solved a lot of problems as far as ensuring the species doesn't disappear (bashirs comment). I suspect those conducting the study hope to learn a bit more than whats the minimum steps needed to ensure the species survives.

Daves comments seem pretty shrewd to me. I have no idea if he has guessed the management implications of such a study correctly but I can see the logic in his guesses.

I can't resist making one comment though. I won't dispute the concept that there is no need to tag fish to get the answers to the types of questions he suggest might be being addressed - its possible for some species. However I suggest tagging may quicker, cheaper and give more reliable info than other methods and that high tech tags (as discussed) may provide information that no other method can for some species.

If you can think better study methods than tagging dave - share them with the world (assuming the fish is not landed commercially - so studying commercal landings is out , and recreational catches for blue wrasse are presumably biased towards small fish - so using rec fishing catches like bass catch data is going to be difficult ).

see ya

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...