Dr Dirk Welsford

Dr Dirk Welsford: BSc (Hons), PhD
Theme Co-Leader: Southern Ocean Ecosystems - Environmental Change and Conservation

Fish and Fisheries Scientist

Research interests

I grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne, and studied a BSc at the University of Melbourne, completing subjects in marine ecology, botany, zoology, marine chemistry and law of the sea in 1994. I then completed a BSc (Hons) program at the University of Melbourne/MAFRI Queenscliff Marine Station on the behaviour and transport process of post-larval King George whiting in 1996. I worked there for a further year as a research assistant on the early life history ecology of fish on intertidal and subtidal soft sediment habitats.

I moved to Hobart in 1998 to take up a University of Tasmania PhD scholarship, working on the biology and population dynamics of shallow reef wrasse species. In 2003 I worked as a Research Scientist in the Scalefish section at the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute on a range of projects including assessment of the Small Pelagics Fishery, impacts of recreational fishing, and using video to assess interactions between midwater trawls and marine mammals.

I joined the Australian Antarctic Division as the leader of the Fish and Fisheries group in 2006. I am currently involved in a range of projects related to the assessment of fish stocks at Heard Island and McDonald Islands and conservation of biodiversity in Australia's Antarctic and subantarctic territories.

My interests include:

  • Life history plasticity in marine fishes.
  • Use of otoliths (ear bones) to elucidate population dynamics of fishes.
  • Quality control systems for data collected on fishing vessels.
  • Use of novel technologies to visualise the behaviour and impact of fishing gear on benthic habitats.
  • Use of science and logic in developing resource use strategies.
  • Effective communication of science for use by policy makers


International representation/collaborations

  • Member of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority's Subantarctic Resource Assessment Group (SARAG)
  • Delegate - Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • Delegate - Scientific Committee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (SC-CAMLR)
  • SC-CAMLR Working Group on Fish Stock Assessment
  • SC-CAMLR Working Group for Statistics, Assessments and Modelling
  • SC-CAMLR Working Group for Ecosystem Monitoring and Management
  • Co-convener of SC-CAMLR ad hoc group for Technical and At Sea Operations (TASO).

Key outcome areas

  • Management and research strategies for Australia's Subantarctic Fisheries, and CCAMLR managed fisheries.

Related links

Selected Publications

Welsford, D.C. G. B. Nowara, S. G. Candy, J. P. McKinlay, J.J. Verdouw and J.J. Hutchins (eds) (2009). Evaluating gear and season specific age-length keys to improve the precision of stock assessments for Patagonian toothfish at Heard Island and McDonald Islands. Final report, FRDC Project 2008/046.

Browne, C.J., A.J. Hobday, Ziegler, P.E. and D.C. Welsford (2008). Darwinian fisheries science needs to consider realistic fishing pressures over evolutionary time-scales. Marine Ecology Progress Series 369:257-266

McKinlay, J.P., D.C. Welsford, A.J. Constable and G.B. Nowara (2008). An assessment of the exploratory fishery for Dissostichus spp. on BANZARE Bank (Division 58.4.3b) based on fine scale catch and effort data. CCAMLR Science 15:55-78

Welsford D.C. and J.M. Lyle (2005). Estimates of growth and comparisons of growth rates determined from length- and age-based models for populations of purple wrasse (Notolabrus fucicola). Fishery Bulletin 103:697-711

Welsford, D.C., A.R. Jordan and A.J. Smolenski (2004). Description and genetic identification of the early life history stages of Notolabrus fucicola and Notolabrus tetricus from Tasmanian waters, Australia, with notes on their newly settled juveniles. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38:267-277

Welsford, D.C. (2003). Interpretation of otolith microstructure in the early life history stages of two temperate reef wrasses (Labridae). Marine and Freshwater Research 54: 69-75

Ewing, G., D.C. Welsford, A.R. Jordan and C. Buxton (2003). Age and growth of the purple wrasse (Notolabrus fucicola) as determined using thin otolith sections. Marine and Freshwater Research 54: 985-993

Jenkins, G. P., D. C. Welsford, M. J. Keough, P. A. Hamer (1998). Diurnal and tidal vertical migration of pre-settlement King George whiting Sillaginodes punctata in relation to feeding and vertical migration of prey in a temperate bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 170: 239-248

Kock, K.-H., Agnew, D.J., Barrera-Oro, E., Belchier, M., Collins, M.A., Hanchet, S., Pshenichnov, L., Shust, K.V., Welsford, D., and Williams, R. (in prep.) The role of fish as predators of krill (Euphausia superba) and other pelagic resources in the Southern Ocean.