Port of Abbot Point seagrass baseline surveys: wet & dry season 2008

McKenna, S.A., Rasheed, M.A., Unsworth, R.K.F., and Chartrand, K.M. (2008) Port of Abbot Point seagrass baseline surveys: wet & dry season 2008. Report. Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F), Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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The Port of Abbot Point, approximately 25km north of Bowen, forms part of the State Government’s infrastructure development plan for the Northern Economic Triangle. To complement a planned industrial precinct at Abbot Point, the Ports Corporation of Queensland Limited (PCQ) is investigating options to expand the current port and develop a Multi Cargo Facility (MCF). As part of the planning for this project, PCQ has commissioned the Marine Ecology Group at the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) to conduct seagrass baseline assessments and monitoring programs. The seagrass studies will assist in planning for the development so as to minimize impacts on seagrass habitats and to develop appropriate management and mitigation measures.

This report describes the baseline seagrass assessments undertaken during 2008. Results detail the seasonal abundance, species composition, and distribution of seagrass communities surrounding Abbot Point including those potentially affected by proposed port developments. It also provides the foundation to establish long-term monitoring and to asses future seagrass changes.

Seagrass coverage was extensive with meadows comprising 42% of the survey area covering the inshore region from Branch Creek to Bowen. Seagrass meadows occurred from the shoreline to a distance of approximately 10km offshore. The survey area contained a variety of species and meadow types ranging from low biomass coastal Halodule uninervis meadows, to higher biomass deep water Halophila spinulosa meadows.

The meadows identified within the Abbot Point port limits were likely to play a number of important ecological roles, including supporting endangered and threatened species such as dugong and turtles, providing nursery grounds for commercial fisheries species as well as providing a substantial component of the primary productivity for the regions marine ecosystem.

Results of the seagrass baselines have already been used to assist with planning and design of port developments in a manner likely to minimise or reduce potential impacts. However the location of seagrass meadows throughout the port means they are likely to face some level of direct and indirect impact from port development. The second phase of the seagrass study is currently under way and aims to better quantify what these impacts are likely to be and includes quarterly monitoring of selected seagrass meadows to:

• Assess natural seasonal and interannual variability in seagrass density and abundance;

• Determine the value of seagrass meadows in terms of primary and fisheries productivity;

• Determine capacity for, and rate of, recovery from disturbance

Preliminary results of these ongoing studies are also presented in this report.

Item ID: 39848
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISSN: 0727-6273
Keywords: seagrass habitats, port management, recovery, resilience, dredging, marine monitoring, environmental monitoring
Funders: Ports Corporation of Queensland (PCQ), Qld Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F)
Projects and Grants: DPI&F Marine Ecology Group (MEG)
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2015 05:45
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 @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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