Novel seismic survey sources and fisheries

Can novel seismic survey sources mitigate potential impacts to fisheries?

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Seismic surveys are conducted throughout much of the world’s oceans to find and monitor oil and gas deposits below the seafloor.  Surveys are frequently conducted in the coastal waters that are also crucial to a range of fisheries.  Recent research has shown that the low frequency, impulsive signals produced by seismic surveys have the potential to have negative impacts on marine invertebrates, some of which are the target of valuable fisheries.

Oil and gas remain a primary energy source and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  As such, efforts to locate marine subseafloor deposits are likely to continue. With the finding of harm to a range of marine taxa, including zooplankton, crabs, lobsters and cephalopods, technologies alternative to the traditional seismic air gun are being considered for future seismic survey operations.

The focus of this project is to evaluate the impact of several novel sound sources on two of Tasmania’s key fishery species: the Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) and the Commercial scallop (Pecten fumatus).  The PhD candidate will use a range of laboratory-based techniques to evaluate the physiological, behavioural, biochemical and morphological impacts of these alternative seismic sources on these fishery species to determine whether they represent a reduced risk to individuals and the fishery as a whole.  There are a predetermined set of parameters which the PhD student will assist in measuring as well as the opportunity to develop their own novel lines of investigation.  The PhD candidate will be actively involved in animal care and maintenance over the course of the project.  The PhD candidate may be involved in the field-based research, which is currently planned for the end of 2021, depending on the timeline of the project.

This project is funded by the Australian Government via the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Beach Energy.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Jayson Semmens


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Relevant research experience

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience working in a laboratory
  • Familiarity with animal care
  • Experience working in the field or on boats

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Jayson Semmens to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

Apply now Explore other projects

Why the University of Tasmania?

Worldwide reputation for research excellence

Quality supervision and support

Tasmania offers a unique study lifestyle experience