GLADSTONE Ports Corporation is assisting a marine research project developed to protect the state’s population of black jewfish.

The project involves tagging black jewfish found in Gladstone’s waterways and tracking them using acoustic receivers positioned along the Queensland coast.

The research is a collaborative effort between James Cook University, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and CQUniversity.

Port representatives are assisting with the deployment, download, and retrieval of data from two receivers located in the port.

Data collected by GPC will provide researchers with important information about the species’ movements, residency, aggregation behaviour and habitat use.

GPC chief operating officer Craig Walker said the port is proud to be part of the project, describing it as an opportunity to contribute to important research through data collection.  

“Our environment team will … download the data which will assist DAF with any management strategies for black jewfish outlined under Queensland’s Sustainable Fisheries Strategy,” Mr Walker said.

“Economic, environmental and social sustainability underpin everything we do at our port.”

Fisheries Queensland executive director Dallas Dsilva said the research would complement work already underway to help protect the sustainability of black jewfish.  

“We know black jewfish are vulnerable to overfishing and stock collapses have been previously documented in Australia and overseas,” he said.

In 2019, the Queensland government introduced a total allowable catch limit for black jewfish, followed by a three-year priority research project to better understand stocks and manage the species.

“Data from these projects will provide crucial information to guide future management actions to help protect the sustainability of black jewfish and support the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy’s aim to ensure healthy fish stocks to support thousands of Queensland jobs,” Mr Dsilva said.

Glenn Butcher, minister for regional development and manufacturing and minister for water, said local waterways have long contained critical marine information to inform research.

“We know that Gladstone is home to a range of Queensland’s beautiful flora and fauna, so it is vital that GPC and the state government do what we can to assist in the research, tracking and preservation of our natural wonders,” he said.

JCU researcher Adam Barnett said port areas are key habitats for jewfish and the collaborative research would give important insight into their movements.

“The assistance of GPC in maintaining receivers provides infrastructure in determining both local habitat use patterns and larger scale migrations along the Queensland coast,” he said.

“It will help us determine connectivity between other jewfish hotspots such as Yeppoon and Mackay.”

CQU research fellow Dr Nicole Flint said the Gladstone Harbour provides important habitats for many economically and ecologically important fish species.

“The data obtained from these receivers will improve knowledge of black jewfish movements and activity in and around the harbour.”