VPS_map_1Subcon and researchers from the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries are commencing a detailed study of the habits of fish species living on the new Shoalhaven offshore artificial reef. The project led by Dr Michael Lowry seeks to better understand the role of module design and configuration in relation to the emerging fish community associated with the artificial reef system.

The study will involve tagging fish with tracking devices and monitoring their fine-scale movements, allowing us to establish the connectivity among the reef clusters. We will be able to show whether fish are favouring particular parts of each module, cluster, or the entire reef. The study will also deploy current meters and temperature loggers within the structure, to examine the effects of these variables on fish movement patterns.

Dr Lowry and Dr Matt Taylor will be deploying a sensor array that will enable 24 hour a day tracking of tagged fish within the reef system. Dr Taylor said, “In a world first, the VPS will be operating on a dual frequencies of  180  and 69 kHz. This will allow us to simultaneously track both the movements of larger-bodied reef fish like snapper and morwong, as well as small pelagic species like yellowtail scad, to examine their use and residency on the reef”.

Subcon is a proud sponsor of this research, in collaboration with the NSW Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust and NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries. The field of study is new and vital to maintaining viable marine resources. The data will support the design and layout of future reefs internationally.