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Jonathan Smart

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow
James Cook University

I'm a fisheries stock assessment scientist, specialising in fisheries modelling. My work focuses on determining how many fish are in the ocean and how many we should catch. I’m a former F&F lab student who rejoined the lab in 2023 as an adjunct. Originally from the UK, I dived around the world as a teenager and moved to Australia in time to start my university education at JCU. I joined the F&F lab in early 2009 as volunteer and undertook a minor research project on shark age and growth in 2010. From 2011 – 2013 I worked as a lab research assistant before starting my PhD on the life history and demographics of Papua New Guinea shark species. I left the lab in 2017 when I accepted my first stock assessment position in Adelaide. In 2023, I rejoined the lab after we relocated our family back to Townsville and I joined Fisheries Queensland as a principal stock assessment scientist.

I'm best-known fisheries modelling but my background was originally in fish biology. Over time I have taken my knowledge and understanding of species biology and ecosystem processes and paired it with my strong programming and statistical skills. This allows me to explain and teach complex processes broad audiences, as mentally I find it easiest to visualize actual fish when solving a fisheries modelling problem. I strongly believe that collaboration leads to better research outcomes, and I enjoy supervising and teaching fisheries students. I also like to make my work and code accessible which I accomplish by publishing R packages for valuable analyses. These are designed to make more sophisticated or complex models readily available to users and remove the hurdles around advanced programming needs.

My personal and professional principles have been fostered by the F&F lab. I believe that research environments should be respective, supportive, and collaborative, and that my publication record is far less important than the real-world value of our research. I take great satisfaction from tailoring my research so that it is valuable to decision makers and by engaging broadly with key stakeholders. I believe that fishers have a lot of on water knowledge of fish stocks and incorporating this knowledge in assessments leads to better science. I’m looking forward to furthering fisheries science through my affiliation with the F&F lab and am excited for the years to come.

Current projects include:

  • Fisheries Queensland stock assessments and management strategy evaluation. I work on a broad variety of species that changes regularly depending on management needs. Across my career I have worked on a variety of sharks, demersal fish, cephalopods, abalone, pelagic fish and most recently, sea cucumbers.

Favourite species?
Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewinii) and the kākāpō (Strigops habroptila)
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