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Pole and line tuna and baitfish fishery project, Indonesia © Paul Hilton / IPNLF / WWF-Aus

Jim Higgs profile photo. Courtesy of Jim Higgs.

Jim Higgs

Tropical Fisheries & Aquaculture Manager

As the fourth generation on a South Australian dairy farm living way too far from the coast, I always knew I wanted to be paid to go fishing and scuba diving.

Study and work at James Cook University in Townsville provided an amazing range of opportunities to visit reefs from the Swains to north of Lizard Island. The work ranged from diving on reefs to count species such as giant clams, crown of thorns starfish and trochus shells, to using commercial fishing gear like trawl, nets, traps and line fishing to sample fish populations. I even met my wife Kaylene while we were both working on a boutique cruise ship operating out of Townville.

I completed a Master of Science degree in 1993 using citizen science to monitor Great Barrier Reef fish populations, before starting a PhD in 1995 on recreational fishing… and hopefully finishing it later in 2017! Like plumbers having leaking taps, I don’t spend much time fishing these days. Instead, I spend any spare time I have sailing with my son Sam around Russell Island where we've lived for 15 years.

In my work with WWF I promote the need for better fisheries management. Without it we can't control the impacts of fishing on target species. But more importantly, we can't stop interactions with species like dugongs, marine turtles and, my personal favourite - sawfish.