Towards Regional and Community-Scale Reporting of Marine Ecosystem Health in the Torres Strait

Tawake, L., Butler, J.R.A., Skewes, T., Tawake, A., McGrath, V., and Morseu, F. (2010) Towards Regional and Community-Scale Reporting of Marine Ecosystem Health in the Torres Strait. Report. CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

Currently there is no formal marine ecosystem health (MEH) monitoring or reporting system in the Torres Strait. While some commercial fisheries are assessed and monitored in detail, much of this information is transmitted to regional management agencies such as the Protected Zone Joint Authority, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA). However, there is increasing awareness of the need to involve Torres Strait Islander communities in the dissemination and collection of ecosystem management and research information, and to establish an integrated system of MEH reporting which is of relevance to agencies and communities. This report presents the findings of Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility project 1.3.5, Reporting Ecosystem Health in the Torres Strait. The project was established in 2006 with the following objectives:

• To identify potential marine ecosystem health (MEH) indicators for the Torres Strait that are relevant to regional and community-level stakeholders, and to collate available data for those indicators;

• To develop potential monitoring and reporting frameworks and media for MEH.

Following expert workshops in 2007 and 2008 a list of 21 potential indicators of MEH (12 for condition, 9 for threats/pressures) was established. This project reviewed the data available for each indicator, finding that only four had established biological thresholds of concern (tropical rock lobster, tiger and endeavour prawns and sandfish), and there was high data confidence and scientific and management knowledge for only 27% of marine fishery species. We derived a standardised method of classifying the condition of indicators as 'healthy', 'unhealthy' and ‘vulnerable’ based on trends where known thresholds of concern did not exist. For indicators of threats/pressures to ecosystem health we did not apply these classifications. Data utility was complicated by the inconsistent temporal and spatial nature of its availability. Examples of regional-scale report card formats are given, utilising heat maps for trends and spider diagrams for current status. A prototype MEH Index was developed, which showed that for 9 indicators with available data MEH was 'moderate' in 2009. Through consultations with communities on Warraber and Darnley Islands in 2010 single species fact sheets were trialled. Communities responded that their favoured media for receiving information was fact sheets and DVDs or videos. Communities also expressed their desire to be involved in MEH monitoring and reporting, but only if the schemes were of direct benefit to them, for example through fisheries co-management schemes. Communities also listed indicators of MEH which would be relevant to their livelihoods, most of which were also identified in the original list of 21. This report suggests a nested framework for linked community and regional monitoring and reporting of MEH, to be coordinated by the TSRA Land and Sea Management Unit. This would integrate scientific knowledge with local and traditional ecological knowledge. However, a clearer definition of MEH is required which incorporates ecological, cultural and economic perspectives. The process for defining this, and selecting suitable and relevant indicators and thresholds of concern from the list in this report should be undertaken in a participatory manner which includes all relevant stakeholders.

Item ID: 15288
Item Type: Report (Report)
Additional Information:

Final report to the Australian Government’s Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility

Projects and Grants: MTSRF Project 1.3.5, Reporting Ecosystem Health in the Torres Strait
Date Deposited: 18 May 2011 04:34
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050210 Pacific Peoples Environmental Knowledge @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961303 Protected Conservation Areas in Marine Environments @ 100%
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