Citizen Science - FIsh tagging and recovery

Dams and weirs have fragmented river ecosystems leading to a dramatic decline in native fish populations as fish are unable to complete their spawning migrations. Fish tagging and the tracking of fish movements across the basin has led to improved data collection enabling better decisions in river management.

The challenge

Fish tagging (using implanted Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) tags) enables the movements of fish to be ‘seen’ and understood at a range of spatial scales across the Murray Darling Basin and the eastern coastal river systems. The PIT detection system is connected to a cloud-based database, FishNet which receives data from each of the tracking stations every minute and can summarise fish movements on a range of spatial and temporal scales. The system presently tracks the movements of over 40,000 PIT-tagged fish. However, tagging efforts have declined recently and many of the tagged fish have since died from natural causes. Government agencies require assistance to enhance the pool of tagged fish and community groups are eager to be involved. Increasing the number of tagged fish will improve the veracity and volume of data around fish movements, which in turns helps make better decisions.

Project name :

Citizen Science: Integrating community groups into basin-scale fish tagging and recovery programs

Funding: One Basin CRC $349,700

Our response

One of the significant contributions of citizen science fish tagging programs is the extensive and geographically diverse datasets they generate. Another advantage of citizen science programs is their ability to involve many participants, resulting in increased data collection capacity. The collective efforts of citizen scientists significantly enhance the spatial and temporal coverage of monitoring efforts, enabling researchers to analyse long-term trends and detect fish population changes that may not be feasible through traditional research approaches alone.

This project consists of four components:

1) Workshops and training program

The project team will conduct workshops and training to further engage and build collaborative relationships with recreational anglers across the Murray-Darling Basin.

2) Interviews with workshop and training session participants

At the conclusion of the workshop and training program, participants  will be invited to participate in a short interview  (10-15) concerning their motivation to participate in such programs.

3) Wide scale participation in PEBS Survey

The partner organisation OzFish Unlimited will  circulate an invitation to participate in the PEBS Survey through it’s newsletters, websites and communication networks.

4) Proof of concept (analysis of FishNet data pre and post workshops and training program).

Validate the proof of concept by analysing the data from FishNet around the geographical location of the workshops. The project outcomes will be communicated to end-users and participants through partnering organisations newsletters, websites, communication networks and academic publications.

The goal

It is anticipated that the program framework will be used as a template using the application of new technologies (e.g. fish tagging) by citizen scientists while meeting the basic animal care requirements with potential for scale-out in the MDB and integrate these groups into government initiatives as trained and trusted partners.

Outcome 1. Deliver a novel citizen science program to tag fish through four organised workshops/training sessions with relevant community members interested in fishery science and river health.

Outcome 2. Investigate data from PIT detection systems (FishNet) around the locations where workshop participants are located.

Outcome 3. Gain insights into the pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours of recreational anglers and community members interested in fishery science and river health.

Our team

Principal scientist

portrait of Dr Katie Doyle
Dr Katie Doyle
Fisheries and Hydropower Scientist
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Our research team

portrait of Professor Lee Baumgartner
Professor Lee Baumgartner
Professor of Fisheries and River Management
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portrait of Dr An Vu Vi
Dr An Vu Vi
Freshwater fish ecologist
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portrait of Jarrod McPherson
Jarrod McPherson
Aquatic Laboratory Manager (Fisheries and Water Infrastructure)
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portrait of Dr John Rafferty
Dr John Rafferty
Environmental Education
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Research Survey: Citizen Science: Integrating community groups into basin-scale fish tagging and recovery programs.

Citizen Science: Integrating community groups into basin-scale fish tagging and recovery programs.

Research Study



You are invited to participate in a research study on Citizen Science: Integrating community groups into basin-scale fish tagging and recovery programs.

The study is being conducted by Prof Lee Baumgartner, Dr Katie Doyle, Dr Vu Vi An, Dr John Rafferty and Mr Jarrad McPherson from the Gulbali Institute at Charles Sturt University.

Before you decide whether or not you wish to participate in this study, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.

What is the purpose of this study?

This research project is interested in understanding why recreational anglers and community members participate in Citizen Science programs that focus on fish migration and the health of river systems. Citizen Science programs have proven to be extremely important in gathering data that can be used to understanding river systems and fish migration better. However, there is not much known about what motivates people to participate in Citizen Science programs.

Why have I been invited to participate in this study?

We are seeking recreational anglers and community members with an interest in fish migration and river health generally and we have asked OzFish Unlimited to send this invitation through its communication networks. To participate you need to be over 18 years old.

What does this study involve?

If you agree to participate, you will be asked to provide some demographic information and indicating how much you agree or disagree with 15 statements. This kind of survey is used around the world and is useful in working out the level of pro-environment behaviour people have. Information from this survey will help us design Citizen Science programs that recreational anglers and/or people interested in health rivers would want to join.

Are there risks and benefits to me in taking part in this study?

There is little risk for you in participating in this survey and your responses will be really helpful in shaping how we go about developing Citizen Science programs. The survey will take about 5-10 minutes to complete. Some of the statements may cause you to reflect on the state of the environment.

How is this study being paid for?

This research is funded by the Gulbali Institute at Charles Sturt University

Will taking part in this study (or travelling to) cost me anything, and will I be paid?

The survey takes about 5-10 minutes to complete and participation is voluntary.

What if I don't want to take part in this study?

Participation in this research is entirely your choice. Whether or not you decide to participate, is your decision and will not disadvantage you. Only those who give their informed consent and submit the survey will have their data included in the project.

What if I participate and want to withdraw later?

Commencing the survey is inferring that you consent to participate. You can leave the survey at anytime if you change your mind and no longer want to participate. However, once you submit your completed survey your data cannot not be withdrawn.

How will my confidentiality be protected?

The study is totally anonymous, if you participate you will not be identified.

The data from the survey will be analysed and the findings will be published in journals. When the journal articles are published OzFish Unlimited will include the journal details in it’s newsletters and website. Again, only you will know you have participated in the survey.

What should I do if I want to discuss this study further before deciding?

If you would like further information, please contact John Rafferty (

Who should I contact if I have concerns about the conduct of this study?

Charles Sturt University’s Human Research Ethics Committee has approved this project. If you have any complaints or reservations about the ethical conduct of this project, you may contact the Committee through the Research Integrity Unit via the following contact details:

The Presiding Officer
Human Research Ethics Committee
Research Integrity Unit
Locked Bag 588
Wagga Wagga NSW 2678

Phone: (02) 6933 4213


Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated thoroughly, and you will be informed of the outcome.


Thank you for considering this invitation. This information sheet is for you to keep ( you can download it from the link below)

Information Sheet PDF


I agree to participate in the above research project and give my consent freely.
I understand that the project will be conducted as described in the Information Statement.
I understand that starting the survey infers consent.


Proceed to Survey

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