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The next time you keep a snapper or lobster for the table, take a small tissue and stomach sample, freeze it and drop it into one of our collection points. We’ll then provide it to the University of Newcastle for lab analysis.   

The researchers will look at the gut contents and do a stable isotope analysis on the collected samples.

Having a better understanding of what snapper and lobster eat across the NSW coastline will provide insights into the role these fish have on subtidal reef ecosystems.

Why is this project important for fishing in NSW?

Having a better understanding of what snapper and lobster eat across the NSW coastline will provide insights into the role these fish have on subtidal reef ecosystems. It will also provide detail about how urchins fit into their diets, enabling subtidal reefs to be managed effectively. There are concerns about the potential for urchins to overgraze reefs and we’re determined to find out if snapper and lobster are key predators that might control urchin numbers.

Recent research from the University of Newcastle suggests that lobsters (eastern rock lobster, Sagmariasus verreauxi) are generalist feeders with urchins making up a small component of their diets. Surprised by this result, the researchers are now looking at a range of other potential urchin feeders, like snapper, to assess their roles in controlling urchins on our reefs.

Understanding how the different fish species contribute to controlling urchins will ultimately allow science-based management of nearshore areas of NSW, keeping healthy habitats for our local lobster and snapper populations.

The samples anglers collect are key to the success of this research project.

With your assistance, the researchers can achieve a broad sample collection in a way that impacts ecosystems the least, since you are already catching the target species.

So, next time you go fishing and keep a pink snapper (Chrysophrys auratus), blue groper (Achoerodus viridis) or an eastern rock lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi) for the table, OzFish would like a stomach and small tissue sample.

We are interested in fish from nearshore areas in NSW and have provided examples of how to collect and handle the samples. We are not requesting you to go out and collect fish and lobsters on our behalf – rather, we want to sample the fish you are collecting for consumption. This will ensure this research will have the least ecological impact possible, and since we only need a little piece for our analysis, there will still be plenty for your dinner!


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What species do you want for the study?

    We are collecting recreationally caught pink snapper (Chrysophyrus auratus), blue groper (Achoerodus viridis) and eastern rock lobster (Sagmariasus verreauxi) within the legal size and bag limits. 

  • What do I do with my fish sample?

    Measure Your Catch:
    Take a total fish length measurement.

    Sample Preparation: Muscle Tissue:
    Remove both fillets from the fish, ensuring at least 2cm of white muscle tissue is included in the sample. Bag and label each sample separately for each individual fish, using a zip-lock bag and permanent maker.

    Sample Preparation: Stomach:
    Carefully make a shallow incision from the anus of the fish towards the throat, being careful to avoid internal organs. Remove the contents of the gut cavity and store in a zip-lock bag labelled “GUTS”. Please be sure to include all of the stomach cavity contents as this will allow us to determine sex.

    Sample Preparation: Smaller Fish:
    For a smaller individual, you might prefer to take the fillets off and provide the whole fish frame with the guts intact. This is fine too!

    Information to include:
    Store each fish sample or frame individually in a zip lock bag, and use a permanent maker to label the bag with the following information:

    • Fish species (“snapper”, “lobster”)
    • Date of collection (“dd/mm/yyyy”)
    • Approximate location (e.g., “Newcastle”)
    • Method of collection (“LINE” or “SPEAR”)
    • Fish length in millimeters (“TFL”)
  • What do I do with my lobster sample?

    Dispatch Your Catch: 
    Euthanize the animal humanely by submersing it in ice water or putting it in a plastic bag before placing it in a freezer . Please avoid stabbing it in the head as you may also damage the stomach content.

    Sample Preparation:
    Defrost the lobster and remove the tail by carefully inserting a sharp knife under the carapace, cutting the meat away from the shell. Before removing the tail, insert a chopstick into the  as this will help to remove the anal tract. Now remove the tail from the body in a twisting motion. Please leave at least the front and rear legs attached to your sample, if possible.

    Information to include:
    Store each lobster head individually in a zip lock bag and label with a permanent marker, including the following information:

    • Date of collection (“dd/mm/yyyy”)
    • Approximate location (e.g., “Newcastle”)
    • Method of collection (“HAND” or “POT”)
  • Where can I drop off my sample?

    Please clearly label the sample ‘OzFish’ and take it to the friendly staff at one of the following locations:

    BCF Tuggerah
    Tenancy 4/150-158A Pacific Hwy,
    Tuggerah NSW

    BCF West Gosford
    356-374 Manns Rd,
    West Gosford NSW

    BCF Bennetts Green
    7/15 Groves Rd,
    Bennetts Green NSW

    Pottsville Bait & Tackle
    2/16 Philip St,
    Pottsville Beach 2489

    Ballina Bait & Tackle
    Shop 19, Ballina West Shopping Centre,
    Pacific Hwy, Ballina 2478

    Evans Head Sports & Marine
    28 Woodburn St,
    Evans Head 2473

    Illuka Bait and Tackle
    2A Charles St,
    Illuka 2466

    The Bait Place
    11 Yamba Rd,
    Yamba 2464

    MO Tackle
    144 Pacific Hwy,
    Coffs Harbour 2450

    Nambucca Boatshed and Cafe
    Riverside Dr,
    Nambucca Heads 2448

    Rocks Marine Bait & Tackle
    25 Memorial Av,
    South West Rocks 2431

    Outdoor Adventure South West Rocks
    100 Gregory St,
    South West Rocks 2431

    Ned Kelly’s Bait N Tackle
    42 Gordon St,
    Port Macquarie 2444

    Hastings Fisheries Office
    3/22-24 Acacia Ave,
    Port Macquarie 2444

    North Haven Bait & Tackle
    Shop 1, 559 Ocean Dr,
    North Haven 2443

    Ritchie’s Bait & Tackle
    23 Beach St,
    Harrington 2427

    Manning River Marine
    13 Victoria St,
    Taree 2430

    Barclay’s Tackle World Forster
    129 Lakes Way,
    Forster 2428

    Tackle World Port Stephens
    100 Magnus St,
    Nelson Bay 2315

    Tackle Power Sandgate
    Shop 2/15 Murray Dwyer Cl,
    Mayfield West 2304

    Fishermans Warehouse Tackle World Marks Point
    804 Pacific Hwy,
    Marks Point 2280

    Narrabeen Bait & Tackle
    1469 Pittwater Rd,
    North Narrabeen 2101

    Drummoyne Best Bait & Tackle
    104 Lyons Rd,
    Drummoyne 2047

    Adreno Spearfishing Sydney
    1/678-682 Botany Rd,
    Alexandria 2015

    Botany Bay Bait & Tackle
    1A Jacobson Ave,
    Kyeemagh 2216

    Fergo’s Tackle World Taren Point
    238 Taren Point Rd,
    Taren Point 2229

    Fergo’s Tackle World Wollongong
    3d/145 King St
    Warrawong NSW 2505

    Lake Illawarra District Fisheries Office
    91 Foreshore Rd,
    Port Kembla 2505

    McCallum’s Tackle World Nowra
    1/176 Princes Hwy,
    South Nowra NSW 2541

    Compleat Angler Batemans Bay
    65A Orient St,
    Batemans Bay 2536

    Tuross Boatshed & Cafe
    93 Trafalgar Rd,
    Tuross Heads 2537

    Ocean Hunt Complete Angler Narooma
    29 Graham St,
    Narooma 2546

    Bermagui Bait & Tackle
    129 Lamont St,
    Bermagui 2546

    Eden Far South District Fisheries Office
    13 Corcora St,
    Eden 2551

    If you need further information, please email ryanlungu@ozfish.org.au.

  • I don't have a collection point near me, can I still be involved in the study?

    Yes! Register to participate and we’ll be in contact. You can also shoot an email to ryanlungu@ozfish.org.au.

  • I go fishing at lots of different places, would you like samples from other fishing spots also?

    Yes! We will use lobster and fish samples taken from coastal headlands and bommies anywhere along the East Coast of NSW, but we are not looking for samples taken from deeper offshore areas.

  • What happens to the samples once I hand them over?

    They will be provided to the research team at the University of Newcastle.

    They will undertake analysis of the lobster and fish stomachs and muscle tissues. This will tell us the importance of sea urchins in the diets of predators and will show how diets differ across locations and time.  We are expecting to find some exciting new things!

  • I don’t know what species of fish or lobster I have caught. What should I do?

    The Department of Primary Industries has some great information for identifying common species found in our NSW estuaries.

    If you are still unsure you can take a photo and send it to us with your name and the date the fish was caught so we can help you ID it for you, email it to info@ozfish.org.au.

  • Is there a time limit from when I catch the fish to when you need the sample?

    As long as the sample is kept in the freezer it will be suitable for analysis, but you should try and freeze the sample as soon as possible.

  • I catch a lot of fish, how many samples do you need?

    As many as you can give us. The more data we have, the better the resulting research will be.

  • When should I start collecting the samples?

    You can start collecting samples now! Once you’ve registered and caught your fish, take your frozen sample into any of the listed BCF collection points.

Latest News

10 JUNE 2022 | NSW anglers to play vital role in fish conservation project

Recreational fishers in NSW are being asked to become citizen scientists to help understand the ecological role of pink snapper and lobster in the state. OzFish Unlimited and the University of Newcastle are calling on the NSW recreational fishing community to get involved by donating a small flesh and gut samples of their catch to research. Researchers at the University will analyse gut and flesh sample from snapper and lobster donated by recreational anglers. The findings will support best-case management of fish habitats along the NSW coastline.

Find Out More

The project is a partnership between The University of Newcastle and OzFish Unlimited and is supported by BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.
This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environment Trust and the Department of Primary Industries.