Moreton Bay Marine Ecology

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Contents Page


Introduction 2

Argument 1: Biotic Factors 3

Biodiversity 3

Indicator Species 5

Argument 2: Abiotic Factors 6

Sediment Life and Sediment Size 6

Water Temperature 8

Recommendation 9

Conclusion 10

Appendix 10


Bibliography 20



Moreton Bay Marine Park is made up of islands, open oceans and reefs covering more than 3400 km2, and is one of the least troubled coastal environments along the Queensland coast (About Moreton Bay, 2015). Over the past 150 years, Moreton Bay has been taken advantage of and has been used for sand mining, coral mining, whaling and fishing, and has become increasingly polluted from the coastal development of surrounding areas (Winton, Moreton Bay Marine Park, 2017). In 1993, the first Marine Park was opened in the area of Moreton Bay, which although was a big step towards the preservation of vulnerable marine species and their habitats, it left 99% of the bay open to fishing. In 2009, a new zoning plan was released for Moreton Bay, meaning that 16% of the bay is now a designated marine national park zone, and a further 8% has a conservation status for recreational and commercial activities (Marine Parks (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 2008, 2004).

Marine reserves are areas inside a marine park that exclude all extractive activities and are mainly managed for the conservation of their ecosystems, habitats and the marine life they support (Why marine reserves are important, 2015). In Australia, Marine reserves are multi-use areas and allow a wide range of activities according to different zones (Winton, Marine Parks, 2017). The benefits of Green Zones include; protecting spawning areas and nursery grounds, providing refuge for protected species, boost species numbers, increasing the abundance of fish, minimising damage to important habitats and building the resilience of the reef against certain threats such as water pollution or climate change (Zoning, Permits and Plans, 2016).

Green zones have been instigated by governments across the world in order to improve and aid the marine ecosystem, the habitats and the animals that live there. There are many success stories from the implementation of green zones including the Cabo Pulmo reef in Mexico. Research has recorded that the fish biomass has increased by 460%, the average biomass was more than five times greater than the average biomass in the Gulf of California, and that manta rays, humpback whales, whale sharks and sea turtle populations recovered in the area (Cabo Pulmo: A Marine Protected Area enables biodiversity and the local economy to rebound, 2014).

The aim of this report is to evaluate the Green Zone at Saint Helena Island to determine whether or not the current Green Zone should be extended to include Green Island. In order to provide an accurate and justified recommendation to the Queensland Government, primary and secondary data as well as fish stock population and health will be evaluated to determine the impact of the green zone on Saint Helena Island and to determine the factors that influence the fish stock populations in both areas. There will be two main arguments that will be covered in this report including the biodiversity and indicator species of both Green Island and Saint Helena Island. Through the research conducted at Moreton Bay, and the evaluation of both primary and secondary data collected, the decision that is justifiable and responsible for both the present and the future is to extend the current green zone from Saint Helena Island to Green Island. This will benefit the biodiversity and fish stock populations, as well as megafauna, meiofauna and the fish diversity.

Argument 1: Biotic Factors


Biodiversity is the diversity or variety of ecosystems and natural habitats. In essence, it’s the variety of ways that species interact with each other and their environment (National Wildlife Federation). Every ecosystem performs certain functions that are critical for organisms, meaning that habitats, structures and production are reliant on biodiversity (World Ocean Review). Biodiversity is also beneficial to many areas such as tourism, research and food resources, meaning the greater the diversity, the better it can maintain and withstand changes to its habitats or environment (Marine Biodiversity, 2013). Biodiversity remains difficult to quantify accurately, but accuracy is not needed to develop an understanding of how biodiversity has changed over time, the responsibility for change and the consequences of such change to the ecosystem and human wellbeing at both Green Island and Saint Helena Island (Green Facts).

Through the creation of food webs, tables and graphs, it is possible to compare the data collected at both Green Island and Saint Helena Island. As seen in the Appendix 1, Saint Helena has a larger biodiversity of fish species (25 species) than Green Island (13 species) found in 2016 data, food webs and sightings. In appendix 3, 4 and 5, a large amount of fish species and high abundance is seen whereas in appendix 6, (Green Island) there is only a small amount seen. This is due to the fact that Saint Helena Island is a green zone and therefore no fishing, netting, trawling or trapping is allowed (Interpreting Zones). This means that fish species have protection, less damage is done to their habitats, spawning areas are protected, fish are given the opportunity to reproduce and increase abundance and refuge is offered for protected species such as dugongs and turtles (Pandolfi, 2014). Having analysed graphs and tables, it can be seen that the Green Zone is flourishing in fish species and abundance, whereas the non-green zone is depleting. In Appendix 2, if closer looked at, Saint Helena Island shows a greater variety in both common and rarer species. This is due to the fact that the Green Zone has allowed the habitat around Saint Helena Island to expand and allow different species to be introduced, whereas the habitat around Green Island remains the same and there is little food, therefore limiting the surrounding areas to more common fish. This is evidence to suggest that the Green zone is allowing improvement, creating a healthier environment and increasing biodiversity.
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As seen in Appendix 7, the Saint Helena Food web has a larger variety of interrelationships on all trophic levels when compared to Green Island’s food web (Appendix 8). Saint Helena has been a no fishing zone since the green zone was implemented in 2009, allowing depleted fish species to replenish and other species relying on them have been able to have an adequate food source. There has also been a ban of dredging, allowing meiofauna to flourish, impacting the smaller fish such as Paradise Whiptail Bream and Striped Cardinal Fish, or more important species such as the ...

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