Local and visiting recreational anglers at Burrill Lake can contribute to important citizen science research over the next 12 months by collecting small samples from their catch and dropping them into Big4 Bungalow Park on Burrill Lake for habitat research.
Developed by the University of Newcastle in partnership with Australia's fishing conservation charity OzFish Unlimited, the data will provide a better understanding of the benefits of saltmarsh habitat restoration for both fish and recreational fishers.
The saltmarsh habitat at Burrill Lake, south of Ulladulla, is in a degraded state, primarily due to cattle grazing.
"Saltmarshes are vital fish habitat and a nursery area for baby fish," said OzFish project manager for Coastal NSW Angus Fanning.
"More than 70 per cent of all recreationally targeted saltwater fish species are thought to rely on saltmarshes for at least some of their life cycle.
"We need fishers to take samples from fish caught in Burrill Lake.
"It doesn't matter the species caught, but the more the better.
"The sample needed is just a small piece a flesh from the fish the size of your thumbnail from above the lateral line.
"Put the piece of flesh in a clean plastic ziplock bag with the date, measurements and location/zone where the fish was caught, and drop it off at the Big4 Bungalow Park on Burrill Lakewhere they will be collected by researchers and taken back to the university for analysis."
Mr Fanning said it was a great opportunity for anglers to give back to the fish and the waterways they love.
This collaboration between the recreational fishing community and researchers will ultimately lead to a more comprehensive understanding of saltmarsh habitat restoration.
The research team are also interested to learn more about the importance of saltmarshes for fish diets.
"Using gut analysis can show what a fish has been eating but it doesn't indicate which food items were the most important," said Associate Professor and lead researcher from the University of Newcastle Troy Gaston,.
"By measuring stable isotopes - naturally occurring chemical tracers, the study will be able to determine the importance of different food sources for different species.
"The more recreational fishers who take part, the better-quality data we will be able to collect and ultimately improve how restoration projects are undertaken."
The project is funded by the University of Newcastle and OzFish's major partner BCF- Boating, Camping, Fishing.
To learn more about the project, the best ways to take a sample, and how you can get involved go to https://ozfish.org.au/projects/burrill-lake-project/ or call 1800 431 308.