Sunfish Citizen Science Dr Barry Pollock
Sunfish Citizen Science Dr Barry Pollock
by Dr Barry Pollock, Scientific Advisor, Sunfish Queensland

Almost half of the recreational fishing that occurs in Queensland is based in Moreton Bay. The 2019 State-wide survey estimates that some 400,000 SE Queensland residents participate in recreational fishing in Moreton Bay.

Passionate about Moreton Bay, many recreational fishers have also volunteered their time and money to participate in Sunfish citizen science projects addressing issues of concern or interest that were not being examined by other research providers.

One such study involves dusky flathead, an iconic species for recreational fishing in Moreton Bay.

The study aimed to fill a gap in the primary scientific literature on their basic biology, including reproductive biology. Such information is important in determining size limits for recreational fishers, and for the protection of spawning aggregations. Many recreational fishers contributed their catches of dusky flathead from Jumpinpin, of one of the key spawning aggregation sites in Moreton Bay.

For more detail on this important study, refer to: Pollock, B R. (2014). The Annual Spawning Aggregation of Dusky Flathead Platycephalus fuscus at Jumpinpin, Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 119: 23-45, which is available here:

Recreational fishers of Moreton Bay are contributing to many other studies and surveys. Some examples are:

  • The Department of Fisheries and Agriculture Keen Angler Program which has developed a long annual time-series of age compositions for all the popular recreational fishing fish species;
  • The State Wide survey of recreational fishing, estimating participation and catch levels;
  • Suntag whereby recreation fishers tag and release, and record recaptures, covering many thousands of fish since the 1970s;
  • Boat ramp surveys; and assistance to university and government researchers in the collection of fish.
Sunfish citizen science project voluntary recreational fishers collecting dusky flathead specimens
Sunfish citizen science project involving voluntary recreational fishers collecting dusky flathead specimens for a study of their reproductive biology in Moreton Bay.