Hooked on science: A conversation with Lisa Walton of Tuna Australia

Lisa Walton of Tuna Australia

Lisa Walton works as a technical officer for Tuna Australia. Based in Brisbane, her passion is an “unhealthy obsession for sustainable fisheries science”. We sat down with Lisa to hear about her PhD research, previous job on a shark cage dive boat, and what she’s doing for Tuna Australia.

What got you interested in studying and working in fisheries?

It started with a fantastically entertaining professor (Ian Tibbetts) during my undergrad who taught fish biology. I was lucky enough to do honours with him as well, looking at shark sensory physiology. Following this, I landed a job at Fisheries Queensland, which fuelled my interest in commercial fisheries and solidified my destiny in this field of science.

You worked at Fisheries Queensland for four years. What did you do there?

I carried out ecological risk assessments for our state-managed net, line, trawl, and trap fisheries. What I enjoyed most about this role was that it felt like I was the connection point between management, science, and industry, and that I needed to consider all three groups to do my job properly. I also loved the diversity of topics covered, from stopping turtles stealing crab pot bait to techniques to untangle critically endangered sawfish from nets.

Lisa at a tuna longline auction in Hawaii.

You're currently doing your PhD. How do you hope your research findings will be used?

My project is mainly about assessing areas of turtle and seabird interaction risk in the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. This involves a lot of environmental data and ocean modelling to work out if there is any relationship between ocean features, like currents and eddies, and the incidental capture of wildlife during commercial fishing operations. I hope that results from my project will contribute towards bycatch-reduction guidelines and maybe even a real-time program to help fishers avoid high-risk areas where risks cannot be mitigated (look up NOAA EcoCast).

Tell us about your work for Tuna Australia

My work is based on data collection and analysis. I am exploring how fishing gear can be best managed to reduce seabird interactions, to the collection and preparation of fishing effort data to inform fish stock sustainability, and assessing impacts of renewable and non-renewable energy projects on our fishing sector.

I’m over the moon to have started working with Tuna Australia this year, and I can’t wait to see what my fishy future brings.

You worked on a shark cage dive boat in South Africa. What was that like?

Cold, but so awesome. I loved watching tourists step aboard, thinking sharks are terrifying man-eaters, to completely change their attitude towards these incredible animals at the end of the trip. Seeing the thrill on their faces from being less than a meter away from a white shark never got old.

What is your favourite tuna or swordfish dish or recipe?

I like to keep things simple with swordfish, with a garlic, lemon, coriander, and chilli butter, cooked carefully on the Weber. As for tuna, how can you go past sashimi? Ponzu dipping sauce is a must with raw fish.

Thanks, Lisa.

Stay informed

Industry news delivered to your inbox every 1-2 weeks

Subscribe to other updates:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.