Monitoring of Spotted Handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) populations and on ground conservation actions

Spotted handfish are a critically endangered species with limited data available to track their conservation trajectory. In 2016 we completed a second meta-population scale survey of all known local populations of spotted handfish within the Derwent Estuary and conducted exploratory surveys in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. We also consolidated all historic density estimates from these sites to provide trend data for this species. This has delivered a scientifically robust monitoring program to track conservation trajectories and performance of the recently signed recovery plan across all known local populations (Recovery plan actions 4a, 4b, 4d and 4e). Collecting this data is crucial for informed implementation of policy such as further targeted placement of artificial spawning habitat (ASH) (Actions 1c and 1d) and to determine minimum population size to inform sustainable capture of brood-stock for an 'ambassador fish' project to build capacity to undertake a captive breeding project with industry (Action 3b-c). Other on-ground conservation outcomes include purchasing eco-friendly moorings for placement into critical handfish habitat (Action 2c), and engagement with the broader community through talks, outreach and publications (Action 6a).

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