Development of Fish Health Indicators for the 2021 Gladstone Healthy Harbour Report Card

Researcher holding large fish


As the link between land and sea environments, estuaries are complex ecosystems vulnerable to human impacts, which directly and indirectly affect plants and animals, including fish. Fish are key biological indicators of environmental contamination, as they are water breathers, common in aquatic ecosystems, play a variety of important ecological roles, are readily identified and have high importance to the community.

The results of this project will be considered for incorporation into the Gladstone Harbour Report Card, providing stakeholders and the community with accessible information about the condition of Gladstone Harbour, with potential for application to other Northern Australian ports and estuaries. The main outcome is an improved understanding of fish health in Gladstone Harbour (and beyond) leading to the potential for improved environmental and fisheries management practices, marketability of fisheries products and enhanced sustainability of fisheries resource


The objectives of the research project were

1. To review and identify suitable methods to monitor fish health in the Gladstone Harbour.
2. To develop and implement fish health indicators suitable for annual monitoring and reporting in the Gladstone Harbour report card
3. To evaluate the potential to adapt and transfer the methods and indicators developed to monitor fish health in other estuaries and ports in Northern Australia.
4. To develop fish health indicator(s) based on the data collected and apply them to the 2017-18 Gladstone Harbour Report Card.


Nicole Flint

Dr Nicole Flint - Project Lead

Dr Nicole Flint is a Research Fellow in the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences and leads CMERC’s research in Sustainable Coastal Resources. With postgraduate qualifications in fish biology and economics, and previous work experience in fisheries management, she has worked for CQUniversity since 2011. Her research is primarily focused on improving monitoring, assessment and management of aquatic environments; environmental report cards; and fisheries management. Nicole is also the Postgraduate Research Coordinator for SHMAS, a research member of the CQUniversity Animal Ethics Committee and a member of the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health’s Independent Science Panel

At CQUniversity we are committed to embedding sustainable practice in our operations, interactions and relationships, underpinned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability sits as one of our strategic pillars within our Strategic Plan 2019-2023.

This project aligns to the following SDG Goals:

  • 4 - Quality education
  • 8 - Decent work and economic growth
  • 17 - Partnerships to achieve the Goal