Dr. Ilona Stobutzki is a leader in fish and fisheries science on multiple fronts. Her career in research and management has spanned the ecophysiology of coral reef fish larvae, marine protected area design, sustainability of trawl fishery bycatch, and world-class approaches to fisheries stock status assessments.
From the beginning, Ilona made a huge mark in the world of coral reef ecology by inventing both a new swimming chamber, and a light-weight light trap for capturing late-stage larval reef fishes, which she used to capture and measure their outstanding swimming capabilities as part of her Honours and PhD research at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville. This work led to a revolution in our understanding of the active dispersal capabilities of larval reef fishes, and fostered an explosion in this field of research for the next two decades. All of this was deeply impressed her supervisor Prof. David Bellwood (who stills remarks that her Honours project was the cheapest ever at just $200), and his kids, because she would often turn up to meetings either on her motorbike, or in her sports car!
After completing her PhD in 1997, Ilona turned her attention to the issue of sustainability in trawl fishery bycatch in her role as a Senior Research Scientist and Sub-Program Leader at CSIRO Marine Research, Cleveland. Working in the Northern Prawn Fishery, Ilona explored the demographics of elasmobranch and scombrid bycatch species to assess the extent of overfishing in these vulnerable groups. Since then, Ilona has led multidisciplinary research programs aimed at providing management and policy advice on Australian and South-East Asian fisheries at the CSIRO (2001-2002), World Fish Centre (2002-2005) and ABARES (2006-present). This has involved working with policy, management and research agencies and fishery stakeholders throughout Asia and Australasia.
Dr. Stobutzki currently leads the Fisheries, Forestry & Quantitative Sciences Branch in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture & Water Resources, where she has been influential in national fisheries science and policy, and led Australian delegations in international fisheries forums (e.g. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna). She is also the first Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement.
Over her career to date, Ilona has also authored >40 peer-reviewed papers and technical reports that have been cited over 1700 times, including many landmark papers with over 100 citations each (e.g., Stobutzki & Bellwood 1997). Much of Ilona’s recent research has focused on approaches for data-poor fisheries and ecological risk-assessment methods. She has been a member of several scientific fisheries resource assessment groups and science working groups for bycatch issues, and was on steering committees for the Department of Agriculture’s reviews of the Australian Government’s Fisheries Harvest Strategy and Fisheries Bycatch Policies.
For her significant contributions to fish and fisheries science at both national and international levels, I nominate Dr. Stobutzki for listing in the Australian Society for Fish Biology Hall of Fame.
Flood MJ, Stobutzki I, Andrews J, Ashby C, Begg GA, Fletcher R ... Hone P (2016) Multijurisdictional fisheries performance reporting: How Australia’s nationally standardised approach to assessing stock status compares. Fisheries Research doi: 10.1016/j.fishres.2016.02.002
Stobutzki IC, Silvestre GT, Garces LR (2006) Key issues in coastal fisheries in South and Southeast Asia: outcomes of a regional initiative. Fisheries Research 78, 109-118.
Stobutzki I, Miller M, Brewer D (2001) Sustainability of fishery bycatch: a process for assessing highly diverse and numerous bycatch. Environmental Conservation 28, 167-181.
Stobutzki IC (2000) Marine reserves and the complexity of larval dispersal. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 10, 515-518.
Stobutzki IC, Bellwood DR (1998) Nocturnal orientation to reefs by late pelagic stage coral reef fishes. Coral Reefs 17, 103-110.
Stobutzki IC, Bellwood DR (1997) Sustained swimming abilities of the late pelagic stages of coral reef fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 149, 35-41.
Stobutzki, I. C., & Bellwood, D. R. (1994). An analysis of the sustained swimming abilities of pre-and post-settlement coral reef fishes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 175(2), 275-286.
Ilona as Chair of the Scientific Committee for the 2016 Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement