Effects of changes in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning plans on deep Shoals off Cardwell (MTSRF Project 4.8.2)

Surveys of green (no-take) zoned sites and blue (open to fishing) sites in adjacent areas of the northern Great Barrier Reef Marine Park were carried out to determine any effects which might be attributable to a change in zoning plan in 2004. Assessment of the fish communities was enumerated using baited underwater video sets (BRUVS) and towed video. 'Cardwell shoals' comprised Brook Shoal (MNP-18-1077) as the site in the green zone; and Eva Rock and Forty Foot Rock as sites in in the "blue" zone in July, September and December 2006, November 2007 and May 2010. Note that Eva Rock and Forty Foot Rock are actually zoned "yellow" in the revised plan - such zones are fished, though with some restrictions on fishing gear. Bruvs sets (70 camera recordings) provided observations on 94 species from 35 families, of which 14 were recognised as 'targeted' species. Primary substrate (MudSand; Sand; SandCoarse; SandForams; SandHoles; Rubble; Rock; Bedrock; Reef); epibenthic classes (MacroAlgae; Seagrass; Burrowers; FilterFeeders; HardCoral; Isolates; None); and functional units (algae/invertebrates; corallivore; generalist carnivore; generalist; macrocarnivore; herbivore; invertebrate carnivore; macroinvertebrate; carnivore; piscivore; sponges/invertebrates; zooplanktivore) were recorded. Habitat mapping features assessed from towed video: Individual organisms: Anemone; Ascidian; Bryozoan; Crinoid; Gastropod; Holothurian; Hydroid; Icelet; Solitary Hard Coral; Solitary Soft Coral; Starfish; Urchin Substrate: No Sediment; Soft Mud; Silt - Sandy mud; Sand; Coarse Sand; Sand Rubble Forams; Rubble, 5-50mm; Stones, 50-250mm; Rocks, > 250mm; Reef Benthic class: Seagrass (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Algae (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Whip Garden (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Gorgonian Garden (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Porifera (Sponge) Garden (Sparse, Medium, Dense); Hard Coral Garden (Flowerpots - Sparse, Medium, Dense); Live Reef Corals; Caulerpa; Halimeda; Bivalve Shell Beds; Tube Polychaete Beds; Burrowing Animals (Bioturbated Mud); Flora; null.

The objective of this task was to establish a baseline on which to build, via ongoing temporal surveys, an understanding of the responses of biological communities (fish and benthos) to differential zoning of human use on inshore "shoals". Areas closed to fishing (green zones) on Magnetic Shoals were compared with adjacent areas open to fishing (non-green zones). Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are typically predicted to acquire measurable changes in the size, demographics and species composition of fishes (Russ 2002) and this study was designed to capture such changes which might be effected by the re-zoning. Each camera provides about 1 hour of tape. 'Targeted' fish are those more likely to be retained by fishers.

While not part of the designated objectives, fish size can be delineated from the stereo BRUVs tapes. This is one component in a series of surveys conducted as part of the MTSRF project, see also separate metadata records on: Southern mid-shelf Shoals (East and West Warregos; Karamea and Barcoo Banks) Reef base shoals (Capricorn-Bunker, Pompey and Swains Groups) Shoals off Cairns Magnetic Shoals (Townsville). Note that the 'Northern Shoals' of Cardwell, Cairns, and Magnetic Shoals have individual records as each region was analysed separately. Related AIMS Publications Speare PJ and Cappo MC (2006) Fish populations on Inshore Shoals: A pilot study and lessons for monitoring the effects of zoning in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Report to the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage. Australian Institute of Marine Science. 32 p. http://data.aims.gov.au/extp...leId=7321 Speare PJ and Stowar MJ (2007) Preliminary findings from the first baseline survey of the Magnetic Shoals.Project Progress Report. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. 26 p. http://data.aims.gov.au/extp...leId=8259 Speare PJ and Stowar MJ (2008) A comparative study between fished and protected inter-reefal shoal habitats and their fish communities on the Great Barrier Reef. Report on ongoing monitoring off Townsville and initial surveys near Cardwell and Cairns, north Queensland. MTSRF Research Report No. 6 ISBN 9781921359057. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and Australian Institute of Marine Science. 60 p. http://data.aims.gov.au/extp...leId=8073 Speare PJ, Stowar MJ and Johansson C (2008) Temporal monitoring of northern shoals off Cardwell and Townsville. Report to the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. 40 p. http://data.aims.gov.au/extp...leId=8261

Principal Investigator
Doherty, Peter J, Dr Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Point Of Contact
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) adc@aims.gov.au

Data collected from 13 Jul 2006 until 30 Jun 2010

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Tags: Oceans - Coastal Processes - Shoals | Biosphere - Aquatic Ecosystems - Benthic Habitat | Biosphere - Ecological Dynamics - Community Dynamics , Community Structure | Biological Classification - Animals/Vertebrates - Fish , Sharks/Rays/Chimaeras | Human Dimensions - Environmental Impacts - Environmental Assessments | Biological Classification - Animals/Vertebrates - Fish , Ray-finned Fishes | Marine Protected Areas | Representative Areas Program | Marine Park zoning