The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area seagrasses: managing this iconic Australian ecosystem resource for the future

Coles, Robert G., Rasheed, Michael A., McKenzie, Len J., Grech, Alana, York, Paul H., Sheaves, Marcus, McKenna, Skye, and Bryant, Catherine (2015) The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area seagrasses: managing this iconic Australian ecosystem resource for the future. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 153. A1-A12.

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Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) includes one of the world's largest areas of seagrass (35,000 km2) encompassing approximately 20% of the world's species. Mapping and monitoring programs sponsored by the Australian and Queensland Governments and Queensland Port Authorities have tracked a worrying decrease in abundance and area since 2007. This decline has almost certainly been the result of a series of severe tropical storms and associated floods exacerbating existing human induced stressors. A complex variety of marine and terrestrial management actions and plans have been implemented to protect seagrass and other habitats in the GBRWHA. For seagrasses, these actions are inadequate. They provide an impression of effective protection of seagrasses; reduce the sense of urgency needed to trigger action; and waste the valuable and limited supply of "conservation capital". There is a management focus on ports, driven by public concerns about high profile development projects, which exaggerates the importance of these relatively concentrated impacts in comparison to the total range of threats and stressors. For effective management of seagrass at the scale of the GBRWHA, more emphasis needs to be placed on the connectivity between seagrass meadow health, watersheds, and all terrestrial urban and agricultural development associated with human populations. The cumulative impacts to seagrass from coastal and marine processes in the GBRWHA are not evenly distributed, with a mosaic of high and low vulnerability areas. This provides an opportunity to make choices for future coastal development plans that minimise stress on seagrass meadows.

Item ID: 35096
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-0015
Keywords: seagrass management, Great Barrier Reef, protection
Funders: Fishing Industry and Research Development Council (FIRDC), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Australian Marine Safety Authority, CRC Reef Research Centre, Ports North, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP), Port of Townsville Limited, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Reef Plan, Australian Government, Queensland Government, James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2014 00:34
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 10%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 30%
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