Help wanted: crayfish research project

Help wanted: crayfish research project

17 Aug 2010

“It’s not a yabby, it’s a crayfish!”

Verita Stewart (pictured in attached image) should know. Verita is researching the Murray crayfish for her year-long Honours project within the Department of Environmental Management and Ecology at the Albury-Wodonga campus of La Trobe University.

Crayfish Verita hails from Eldorado, so she knows the local region. Now she is learning about the secrets of the Murray crayfish, catching and then releasing crays in the Oven River during her field trips, recording the relevant details to build up her research data.

Crayfish numbers and size have been declining over the past twenty years and Verita’s research thesis, "Effects of Recreational Fishing Pressure on Murray Crayfish Populations,” will add valuable current knowledge to the information already available from past research.

“One of the things that is great about this project is that we are using 20 years of data collecting by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), which allows us to compare catch rates and population structure over a long period of time.  This means that we have a better chance of picking up on any significant environmental change over that period, and the best chance of detecting any significant declines in crayfish numbers,” stated Dr Susan Lawler, Head of the Department of Environmental management and Ecology.

An important part of this research involves the information held by the members of the community who fish for Murray crays.

“I want to learn as much as I can about such things as where people fish, cray sizes and catch numbers, and how much effort is put into catching crays,” explained Verita.

Verita is seeking input from people who currently fish, or have fished in the past, for Murray crays. She is asking that they complete a confidential online survey before the end of August, which can be accessed at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/murraycraysurvey
Hard copies of the survey are also available - phone Dr Susan Lawler on (02) 60249874 or email s.lawler@latrobe.edu.au

Joy Sloan, Fisheries Management Officer from DPI Wodonga urges people to complete the questionnaire, as their input into this survey will be a highly valued part of the research project.

“The Department is keen to gather as much information about crayfishing as possible. It will help us to get a clearer picture of the current situation so that we can make more informed decisions about key aspects such as sustainable catch and size limits, and length of crayfish season,” stated Ms Sloan.

ENDS


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