Poster Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Forecasting swordfish quality for dynamic industry adaptation (#205)

Jessica A Bolin 1 2 , Karen Evans 2 , David Schoeman 1 3 , Kylie Scales 1
  1. School of Science, Technology and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia
  2. CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  3. Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Meat quality is of paramount importance for high-value fisheries, but the quality of fish can be affected by environmental variability and change. Reports from fishers operating in Australia’s Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) suggest fishing for swordfish in anomalously warm waters is linked with myoliquefaction (“jellymeat”), mediated by parasitic infection. Jellymeat renders the meat unsuitable for export, reducing profits and increasing wastage. If there is a thermally-sensitive mechanism underpinning jellymeat progression, there may be a concomitant increase in future jellymeat events, since the waters off Eastern Australia are a hotspot of marine climate change. However, the links between physical seascape conditions and the mechanisms underpinning jellymeat are unknown. Using microscopy, multi-omics and dynamic spatial modelling, we are investigating the biophysical mechanisms underpinning the occurrence of jellymeat in swordfish harvested in the ETBF, and developing predictive models of spatiotemporal risk zones over the fishery domain. In partnership with industry, we are co-creating a prototype tool that provides automated seasonal forecasts of the likelihood of harvesting swordfish likely to become jellied, to inform best handling practices when fishing in conditions conducive to jellymeat. We aim to reduce wastage along the supply chain, and support proactive industry adaptation under ocean climate variability and change.