NERP TE Project 8.2 Do no-take marine reserves contribute to biodiversity and fishery sustainability? Assessing the effects of management zoning on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (JCU)

This project is providing a direct assessment of the ecological effects of multiple-use zoning on inshore reefs of the GBRMP. Underwater visual census (UVC) monitoring of fish and benthic communities is being carried out at 50 no-take marine reserve (green zone) sites and at 50 sites that have remained open to fishing within the Palm, Magnetic, Whitsunday and Keppel Island groups. Long-term monitoring surveys are providing information on: 1. The effects of no-take marine reserves on populations of both species that are fished and other non-fished species. 2. Variations in structure of fish communities due to the reserves and natural disturbances. 3. Structure and dynamics of marine species on the sea bed. 4. Coral health, bleaching, incidence and severity of coral disease and coral predators. 5. Temporal monitoring of the relative number of fishing lines recorded at each site will be used to assess the distribution of fishing effort and provide information on the levels of non-compliance with zoning regulations.

Following the re-zoning of the GBRMP in 2004, a number of new no-take marine reserves (green zones) were established. It is important for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and fisheries managers to have accurate information describing the effects that this increase in the number and area of green zones has had on biodiversity, reef health and fish populations in the GBRMP. This project is providing one of the few spatially and temporally replicated ecological monitoring data sets for coral reefs in the GBRMP. Inshore reefs are high-use recreational areas that are exposed to significant and increasing levels of recreational fishing effort. Inshore coral reefs of the GBRMP are also highly exposed to terrestrial run-off of sediment, nutrients and chemicals. There is therfore a high probability that these inshore reefs will be heavily impacted by accute flood plume events, chronic nutrient enrichment of inshore waters and increased sedimentation. This project has established a vital baseline for assessing future scales of change to coral reefs in the GBRMP.

Principal Investigator
Russ, Garry, Prof. School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University (JCU) garry.russ@jcu.edu.au
Co Investigator
Williamson, David, Dr ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (JCU) david.williamson@jcu.edu.au

Publications / Data

Tags: marine