Australia Volunteer Internship

From: Katharine DeVilbiss

Date: 03-29-2007

Subject: Internship Summary

            For ten weeks I interned as a fisheries technician for Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F). It began with introductions to employees at the Southern Fisheries Centre as well as to the Long Term Monitoring Program (LTMP), which consists of boat ramp surveys, commercial catch sampling, charter catch sampling, the keen angler program, and fishery-independent sampling. I was exposed to each of these in a range of quantities throughout my time at the centre.

I accompanied fellow technicians to boat ramps in Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Scarborough, Currumbin, and Jacob’s Well. I was trained along side casual employees on the proper ways of boat ramp surveying. While at these locations I worked with the public and learned how to identify and differentiate fish species, mackerel in particular. On a few early mornings I was taken to Raptis Fish Market in Brisbane. We took length frequency measurements on multiple species and catches from various fishermen. I gained further hands on experience when processing fish in the centre’s lab, which were mostly from commercial fishermen and keen-anglers. I was exposed to species such as mackerel, mullet, snapper, pearl perch, amberjack, whiting and yellow fin bream. I obtained length and sex data and extracted otoliths that would later be used to develop an age structure.

Fishery-independent sampling I took part in was the Blue Swimmer Crab surveying in Hervey Bay. During this night trawling I quickly learned the procedure such as how to tie a cod-end, handle the by-catch, control a winch, and take salinity and temperature measurements. More importantly I learned how to identify a blue swimmer crab, its sex, and length. On a few occasions in the boat shed I learned how to repair spanner crab nets. I also went through mud crab nets checking for holes and breakage. With charter catch sampling I accompanied a technician on a trip where potential fisherman were explained the program and data sheets and fish frames were collected from fisherman currently in the program.

In the office I helped the other technicians with small but valuable jobs.  I verified, as well as checked, all sorts of data sheets for errors.  I printed and laminated materials for charter boat fisherman and boat ramp surveys, entered caab (codes for Australian aquatic biota) codes onto data sheets, photocopied used data sheets, and moved older otoliths into smaller storage.  I helped get equipment together for the many field trips and put away and clean equipment after the trips. Additional, I helped pack envelopes and prepare bags for potential keen anglers as well as compare otolith images on the database.

Overall my experience at the Southern Fisheries Centre was extremely beneficial and worthwhile. I was exposed to so many aspects of the Long Term Monitoring Program and learned valuable information I would never learn in the class room.