Charles Sturt helps to integrate ‘citizen scientists’ into fish movement research

7 DECEMBER 2023

Charles Sturt helps to integrate ‘citizen scientists’ into fish movement research

A Charles Sturt research project has utilised 'citizen scientists' to gather valuable data that will assist to develop beneficial programs in the Murray-Darling Basin.

  • Charles Sturt partners with OzFish and Karltek for pilot study
  • The pilot study will gather information for government agencies to determine if the project can be upscaled
  • The project aims to train citizen scientists to use fish tagging microchips

Charles Sturt University’s Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water and Environment has partnered with OzFish and Karltek to work with a select group of anglers to undergo training in fish handling and Passive Integrated Tagging (PIT) procedures.

PIT tagging involves implanting small internal microchips into fish. The tags are activated when they pass near a specialised antenna, installed throughout the river system, to detect the fish.

The goal is to demonstrate that citizen scientists, when appropriately trained, can contribute to basin-wide scientific programs, reducing government reliance and increasing confidence in collected data.

Charles Sturt’s Postdoctoral Researcher in Fisheries and Water Infrastructure with the Gulbali Institute Dr Katie Doyle said, “Establishing a group of trained citizen scientists presents a significant opportunity to increase tagged fish numbers and enhance the quality of generated data.

“However, as fish tagging involves a surgical technique, there is a need to train, equip, and empower groups to undertake this work while ensuring adherence to animal ethical standards and in a manner which is scientifically robust.”

Charles Sturt, OzFish and Karltek experts will run a series of workshops providing training in fish handling and PIT tagging procedures with anglers at three sites across the Murray-Darling Basin, including Deniliquin, Swan Hill and Mildura.

This pilot initiative aims to determine whether anglers can contribute valuable data to fisheries research with minimal harm to the fish. The team will pilot the approach and report back to government on the feasibility of citizen scientist-led programs over the long term.   

This project has been funded by the Australian Government OneBasin CRC and the Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub, the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing  ̶  with support from Charles Sturt University, recreational fishers, and First Nations groups.

The first workshop was held in Deniliquin on Saturday 25 November. Those wanting to be involved in the Swan Hill or Mildura workshops can complete the online Expression of Interest form.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Katie Doyle, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or news@csu.edu.au

The Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water and Environment is a strategic investment by Charles Sturt University to drive integrated research to optimise farming systems, enhance freshwater ecosystems and improve environmental management, to deliver benefits across Australia and globally.

Photo caption: Charles Sturt staff members An Vi Vu and Cameron McGregor demonstrate the fish tagging process in Deniliquin recently.


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Wagga Wagga Charles Sturt University Gulbali Institute