Something’s fishy

You can help important long-term monitoring of Western Australia’s fish stocks by donating your fish frames (skeletons with the head and guts intact) of key species to the Department of Fisheries’ Send Us Your Skeletons monitoring program.

Send Us Your Skeletons is a long-term program designed by the Department to monitor the status of stocks of key species such as West Australian dhufish, Snapper, Baldchin groper, Australian herring and Tailor. The program is a great way for recreational fishers to get involved in a scientific project that is monitoring the recovery of stocks of such important species after management changes over the last five or so years.

fishFreezers have been set up across the region, by the Department of Fisheries, to encourage more fishers to donate the fish skeletons for research purposes.

Why the fishy frames?

A steady supply of frames is being received from Jurien Bay, but more donations are needed from a broader range of places along the coast, including Cervantes, Green Head, Leeman, Geraldton, Port Gregory and the Abrolhos islands, where new freezers have been set up for public drop-offs.

Dr David Fairclough, of the Department of Fisheries, said the skeletons were essential for determining the status of fish stocks in the region.

“Each fish skeleton contains critical biological information that we use to conduct stock assessments of each species,” he said.

“In particular, fish contain ear bones or otoliths which we can use to determine the age of each fish.

“By collecting large numbers of fish frames and determining their ages, we can evaluate the status of stocks, a little like conducting a census to examine how many people of different age groups there are in the population.”

How can people participate?

Participation is as simple as:

  • putting one or more fish frames in a bag – fresh or frozen; you can keep the wings
  • Add a label (use pencil) with your name, address and phone number (so we can send you research feedback), the date and location of your capture (shore catch: general location; boat catch: latitude/longitude or distance and bearing from port and the name of the port). This information is confidential.
  • Donate your frame(s) at your nearest drop-off location. Note that fish frames do not form part of your possession limits.
  • Bags and waterproof tags are available at drop-off points and can be posted out on request.

Dr Fairclough said the Department had increased drop-off locations across the region to encourage more fishers to donate frames.

We have recently been improving the network of drop-off locations across the Mid-west to improve the geographical spread from where we collect the data for assessments – which helps to provide an overall picture of the status of stocks,” he said.

“We now have new drop-off locations across the Mid West region, but frames can also be dropped off in Geraldton at the Department’s office, the Sports Centre and the fish market, and also at the Lancelin Angling and Aquatic Club and the Department’s office. We would like to thank all of the organisations that support Send us your skeletons by being drop-off locations.”

To make donations as easy as possible, there are drop-off points at the Green Head General Store, Leeman Caravan Park and in Geraldton at the Department of Fisheries office, Geraldton Sports, the Fish Market and Batavia Coast Maritime Institute.

The Department’s newest drop-off location is on the Department of Fisheries jetty on Rat Island at the Abrolhos, where a freezer is available 24-hours a day for bagged and labelled frame donations.

More details of these locations can be found on the Department of Fisheries website.


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