Technical report

File type: PDF

Lynch TP, Soo L, McEnnulty F and Devine C (2022) Conservation of Spotted Handfish and their habitats - Annual report. Report to the National Environmental Science Program. CSIRO.

December 2022


Spotted Handfish are a Critically Endangered coastal anglerfish endemic to south-eastern Tasmania. The population appears to have stabilised in response to the long-running conservation intervention of planting artificial spawning habitat (~14,000 deployed since 1998). However, each isolated population group is highly vulnerable to being lost to a chance event. As local populations can be dynamic, the functional life span of the artificial spawning habitat is limited, and threats to the species are chronic, stochastic and existential through climate change, Spotted Handfish may be a ‘conservation reliant’ species that require ongoing management. A robust captive population program is required. The long time-scale required to even reach stability and the dependence of the Spotted Handfish on interventions also mean short duration research projects are not appropriate, and operational governance models would better suit their conservation.