Torres Strait Seagrass 2019 Report Card

Carter, A.B., Mellors, J.E., Reason, C., and Rasheed, M.A. (2019) Torres Strait Seagrass 2019 Report Card. Report. UNSPECIFIED, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

Torres Strait contains some of the most extensive seagrass meadows of northern Australia.

Seagrass is a critical habitat in Torres Strait, supporting populations of dugong, green turtle, and important fishery species. Torres Strait Island communities have strong cultural and spiritual links to these species and environments.

This report provides the second integrated condition assessment of Torres Strait seagrass using a report card approach. Seagrass was graded from A (very good) to E (very poor) relative to baseline conditions, and scored on a 0–1 scale.

Data used in this report card was collected from mid-2018 to mid-2019 for the Torres Strait Seagrass Monitoring Program (TSSMP). The TSSMP incorporates the Torres Strait Seagrass Observers Program, Ranger Subtidal Monitoring Program, Queensland Ports Seagrass Monitoring Program, and Reef-top Monitoring Program.

Twenty-seven sites/meadows were classified for the 2019 report card across four Torres Strait Island Clusters.

Seagrass condition was good in the Western, Central and Eastern Clusters, and satisfactory in the Inner Cluster.

The majority of individual sites/meadows were in good condition. Only two monitoring meadows in the entire Torres Strait monitoring network received a poor score; these were the deeper meadows along the southern side of Thursday Island and suggests a localised reduction in light there. No condition indicators or overall grades were very poor in 2019.

The program will be substantially improved as it matures and more sites/meadows build 10 years of baseline information.

This report highlights areas where information is lacking and suggests a pathway for improving representativeness and reliability of condition scores for seagrass in Torres Strait Island Clusters. We recommend: (1) establishing monitoring in the Top-Western Cluster where no monitoring currently occurs, (2) expanding meadow-scale and subtidal block monitoring to include examples in all island clusters, (3) establishing additional intertidal transect monitoring in the Central Cluster, and (4) establishing monitoring meadows in the Inner Cluster away from anthropogenic impacts at Thursday Island. These additions would vastly improve our assessment of seagrass condition and change in the region.

Item ID: 70843
Item Type: Report (Report)
Keywords: seagrass, Torres Strait, benthic habitat, report card
Copyright Information: © James Cook University, 2019.
Funders: Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA)
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2021 00:25
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 100%
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