CSIRO is the custodian of a number of collections of animal and plant specimens and data that contribute to national and international biological knowledge. Collectively they form the National Research Collections of Australia (NRCA).
The Australian National Fish Collection (ANFC) was established in 1943 by Ian Munro, a former fisheries scientist at CSIRO, while preparing books on fish species from the Indo-Pacific region. The collection contains mostly marine species, with a particular focus on deepwater fishes and sharks and rays from Australia and the Indo-Pacific region. It houses more than 151,000 fish specimens representing about 3,400 species. Additionally, the collection houses more than 65,000 images, 16,000 tissues samples and 11,000 x-rays.
The ANFC is recognised both nationally and internationally as a major research collection. It is a resource for many fields of science, providing a record of diversity prior to, and during recent large-scale human impacts, such as fishing and climate change. Its specimens provide the physical evidence of a species occurring in a specific place at a specific time.
Material has been obtained in many ways — from CSIRO projects, fishermen (professional and recreational), and expeditions and cruises on survey and research vessels, notably Fairwind (Papua New Guinea region, 1948-1950), Stanley Fowler (tropical Australia, 1948-1950), Rama (Gulf of Carpentaria, 1963-1965), Courageous (1975-1979), Soela (1979-1989) and Southern Surveyor (1990 to 2013).
The collection supports research for sustainable management and conservation of healthy, diverse and productive marine ecosystems. We combine genetic techniques with traditional taxonomic methods to understand our marine fish fauna, how they have evolved and the effects of environmental pressures. This knowledge assists fisheries and conservation managers to improve our understanding of impacts on marine biodiversity.
The ANFC is located at CSIRO’s Hobart site, which is the headquarters for the organisation’s marine research and the home port of our Marine National Facility.