Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2018October 7 - 11, 2018 Melbourne, Australia

Special Sessions

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Sponsored talk sessions

Special session:Restoration and enhancement of freshwater fishes : Adaptive management in aquatic environments

Sponsored by the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH)

Chair: Jarod Lyon

Annually in Australia, millions of dollars are spent restoring aquatic environments to benefit fish for conservation and fishery outcomes.  In order to maintain continued investment, governments must provide tangible evidence that this investment is both delivering the required outcomes, and that value for money is achieved  through the implementation of adaptive management and continua improvement frameworks.  In this special session, we examine case studies where researchers, governments and communities have used the Adaptive Management cycle to deliver real world outcomes from investment in rivers and estuaries. 


Special session: Carp control

Sponsored by the National Carp Control Program (NCCP) 

Chair: Matt Barwick

Carp are understood to cause significant ecological, social and economic impacts in Australia, and are ranked among the top 10 most invasive fish species worldwide. The National Carp Control Plan (NCCP), led by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government, offers potential for dramatic improvement in the health of many Australian waterways, improving human use and enjoyment as a result.

Research now underway is helping to inform development of an integrated approach for the control of carp, with particular focus on use of a species-specific virus as a biocontrol agent. This session will include speakers exploring different aspects of the science underpinning this innovative national program, and a Q&A session with those leading various aspects of the program.

Special session: Recreational fisheries

Sponsored by the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA)

Chairs: Kylie Hall and Taylor Hunt

Recreational fishing is one of Australia’s most popular leisure activities, with about 3.5 million people fishing each year. It is also a huge boon for the economy: fishers spend about $650 million each year on tackle and another $2.5 billion on boats and vehicles, accommodation, travel, charters, and other accessories. As more and more people participate in recreational fishing, management and science are challenged to ensure that this growth remains ecologically sustainable and meets the needs of participants as diverse as the species they fish for.

ASFB 2018 has an overarching theme of ‘science into practice, practice into science’. We especially encourage presentations where a scientists and managers ‘tag-team’ to demonstrate how science has been practically used to guide management decisions.

Presentations addressing recreational fishing issues may include: monitoring and assessment including data collation, satellite and telemetry tagging; genetic and genomic applications; citizen science; catch and release, including vulnerability to angling, post release survival and best practice for fish handling and welfare; management and conservation interventions such as habitat restoration, fish stocking programs (both marine and freshwater), fish aggregation devices and artificial reefs; ecosystem based management, policy and governance and the role of adaptive management; engagement and education of fishers; Aboriginal stewardship; social and economic values; managing shared resources.

Special Session: Climate change: what do we know? When did we know it? And what can we do?

Sponsored by National Centre for Coasts and Climate and the University of Melbourne.

Chair: John Koehn

In Melbourne 2010, we held a Climate change symposium that reviewed the knowledge base and made predictions to the future. At ASFB 2018, climate change will again be a key theme where that knowledge and those predictions are reviewed and updated. The theme will include keynote and plenary speakers, and delegate presentations. We invite presentations on climate change impact detection, attribution, and adaptation. The session will culminate in a public forum held at the Museum of Victoria (6-8 pm, Tuesday 8th October), with presentations and a panel session with discussion and questions from the audience.  

Other talk sessions

Fish ethics and welfare

Chair: Culum Brown

Humans interact with fish in multiple ways including scientific research, fisheries, aquaculture and keeping them as pets. Like the rest of the vertebrates, there is now strong evidence that fish are sentient which has important implications for how we treat them in a welfare context. We also currently lack consistent animal welfare legislation across states. This session draws on scientists, veterinarians, policy makers and animal welfare inspectors to discuss the issues of ethics and welfare around our treatment of fish. Associated with this talk session will be a dedicated workshop where we will continue the discussion and work towards a consensus position for ASFB on fish welfare and potential recommendations for legislation.

Behavioural responses to environmental change

Chair: Rob Hale

Humans have caused unprecedented changes to environments worldwide. For many animals, adjusting their behaviour, such as moving to new areas, is the first response to these altered conditions. However, in other instances, changes to behaviour can be deleterious such as occurs when ocean acidification compromises the ability of fish to avoid predators, or when reproductive behaviours are altered. We invite presentations that explore all aspects of the effects of environmental change (from both natural and anthropogenic causes) on fish behaviour.

Challenges in fisheries management and assessment

Chair: Bryan McDonald

Fisheries management is becoming increasingly complex due to the challenges of balancing environmental, economic and social demands. We invite presentations that explore all aspects of fisheries management and assessment, including integrated management in a multiple-use context. The challenge of how management objectives and requirements interact with stock assessment objectives will be a particular point of interest during the session.

Pre-requisite knowledge of stock status, and of relative exposure to risks that undermine sustainability, are routinely referenced as a critical management need. The implication of drawing such a reference is that fishery stocks will be routinely subject to effective management linked to stock assessment. The reality can be different, or if management is in place, it may assume that stocks will respond simply to catch reductions which may not be true where cumulative risk and/or impact from multiple sources are involved. 

Associated with this talk session will be a workshop titled “The importance of cohesion to confront uncertainty”. The workshop will continue the discussion about how scientific endeavor and management intent can be better linked.

Changing life-histories and fisheries resilience

Chair: Asta Audzijonyte

Despite our best efforts fish stocks around the world still fail to recover, and many continue to decline. Such lack of recovery has often been attributed to regime shifts, caused by changes in ocean temperature or productivity. Yet, we now know that size and age structure of fish stocks are also changing in response to global warming and current exploitation practices. Trends in fish life-histories can have large implications on their reproductive output, stock resilience and productivity, yet such trends remain unexplored and unaccounted in current management approaches. This failing threatens our ability to maintain sustainable fisheries even in what is currently believed to be well-managed stocks. This session is dedicated to discussing progress, knowledge gaps and ways forward to assess and account for the dynamic nature of stocks in a changing climate.

Eco-evolutionary dynamics in fishes

Chair: Steve Swearer

It is well known that evolution is driven by ecological differences – it’s what natural selection acts upon. It is equally well known than how life evolved shapes how current species interact today. What is less well known is that interactions between ecology and evolution have the potential to interact on contemporary time scales with important consequences to fish conservation and fisheries management. We invite presentations that explore how ecological changes (e.g., invasive species, climate change) drive contemporary evolutionary change or how such rapid evolutionary change (e.g., life-history traits, dispersal propensity) can influence ecological processes (population dynamics, community composition, ecosystem function) on similar time scales.

Aquatic pollution: from individuals to assemblages

There is growing appreciation that fishes are exposed to a multitude of pollution types (chemical, visual, auditory), which can impair sensory systems (olfaction, vision, hearing) and disrupt key physiological processes in non-lethal ways that are more complex and difficult to predict in natural populations. We invite presentations that explore non-lethal impacts of pollution, indirect effects of pollution exposure in wild populations, and studies of pollution interactions or mixtures, particularly across pollution types to better understand and predict impacts of pollution in nature.

Threatened species

Chairs: Michael Hammer & Mark Lintermans

Threatened fishes occur in marine and freshwater environments and are subject to various impacts.  ASFB through the Threatened Fishes Committee has played a leading role in assessing conservation concern and supporting researchers working with threatened fishes in Australia and New Zealand. This session is an opportunity for those involved with threatened species research, management or policy to contribute learnings and to mix with others in this subfield. The session will be an extension to the Threatened Species Workshop.Threatened fishes occur in marine and freshwater environments and are subject to various impacts.  ASFB through the Threatened Fishes Committee has played a leading role in assessing conservation concern and supporting researchers working with threatened fishes in Australia and New Zealand. This session is an opportunity for those involved with threatened species research, management or policy to contribute learnings and to mix with others in this subfield. The session will be an extension to the Threatened Species Workshop.

Alien Fishes special session

Chairs: Bonnie Holmes & Ben Broadhurst

Whilst carp management is the focus of a sponsored session at this conference, it is also important that some attention is given to the many other alien fishes that are in our fresh and marine waters. This session is intended to cover pest management case studies, and both pure and applied research. Tropical and temperate experiences are anticipated for the session, including up to date information on recent incursions.

Habitat: its importance and its restoration

Biology, ecology and evolution of fishes

Do you love fish, but can’t find a space that suits your talk elsewhere? Never fear, this is your slot. Here, we will showcase a diversity of work exploring all aspects of marine and freshwater fish biology.

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