Study backs lobster fishing rules

Southern Cross University PhD candidate Jesse Leland with a moulted shell from an Eastern Rock Lobster.
Southern Cross University PhD candidate Jesse Leland with a moulted shell from an Eastern Rock Lobster. Sharlene King/SCU

IN a win for those who love eating lobster, a new study has endorsed efforts to preserve lobster populations through rules requiring  fishers to release creatures that were too small or if they caught too many of them.

Australia's Eastern Rock Lobster is the largest spiny lobster species in the world and can grow to more than 8kg. They are commonly found on the menu of top restaurants and are highly prized by recreational fishers.

PhD candidate Jesse Leland has been studying how lobsters fared once they were released and whether the stress of being caught increased their chances of dying even after they had been released.

However, Mr Leland said the results of his research into released lobsters were positive and supported the current approach to exploitation control through bag, size and sex regulations.

"Although damage often occurred during capture and handling, we found that survival among released eastern rock lobsters was high and that the stress experienced did not affect their health," Mr Leland said.

Mr Leland's research will be presented at the inaugural School of Environment, Science and Engineering Postgraduate Conference, being held at the university's Lismore campus tomorrow and Wednesday.

Being held under the theme of 'Exploring Boundaries in Environmental Science and Management', the conference would cover Mr Leland's work, along with:

  • Nelum Kanthilatha, presenting 'Preliminary results of a study of ancient fatty acids preservation in a prehistoric site in northeast Thailand', examining food eaten by prehistoric humans
  • Dale Fallon, with 'Managing Future Risks: NSW Local Government's Climate Change Adaptation Plans', looking at how NSW councils are implementing climate change plans, and
  • Jonathan Parkyn with 'Movement patterns of Thersites mitchellae: Research at a snail's pace', looking at the critically endangered Mitchell's rainforest snail

The conference would also cover topics such as laboratory-based environmental chemistry, cultural heritage and humpback whales.

Southern Cross University's head of the School of Environment, Science and engineering, Professor Jerry Vanclay, said the school had run conferences in the past, but this was the first to focus solely on the work of its postgraduates.

"We have drawn together an impressive number of presentations covering a wide range of topics," he said.

Conference chair Dr Amanda Reichelt-Brushett said the gathering was an opportunity for students to share ideas, support each other and hone their presentation skills.

"The postgraduate pathway at times can be a lonely road partly because we don't have clear cohorts of students and also because every single post graduate student is focused on a very specific research project," she said.

"If students know about the details of each other's work then they may be able to discuss ideas and problems and help each other find solutions."

Giving the keynote address is Alumni Dr Joanne Wilson, who has returned to Australia after five years based in Bali as the lead scientist with the Nature Conservancy organisation working on reefs and marine protected areas across the Indonesian archipelago.

After being awarded a PhD from Southern Cross University in 1999, Dr Wilson worked as a coastal ecologist and an environmental consultant before heading to Bali.

"My career certainly hasn't followed a typical 'academic' path, but I can show that there are many ways to do and use science to help conserve the environment while sustaining livelihoods for local people," Dr Wilson said.

The two-day conference is divided into four sessions:

  • Session 1: Marine Ecology, Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Session 2: Environmental Chemistry, Paleochemistry and Geosciences
  • Session 3: Socioeconomics, Sustainability, Information Technology and Governance
  • Session 4: Forestry, Rainforest Ecology and Agriculture

The conference is free of charge. University students and staff and the wider the community is welcome to attend.

"The open invitation helps students to foster interactions between each other, community, staff and future employers," said Dr Reichelt-Brushett.

Topics:  southern cross university

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