[ASC-media] Twice the coral trout; the down-low on dredging; and visit Fukushima

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Thu Mar 26 14:59:37 PDT 2015


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Twice the coral trout; the down-low on dredging; and visit Fukushima




Dear ASC-ers,

Today: new study finds twice the coral trout in Great Barrier Reef protected zones

Coral trout in protected 'green zones' are not only bigger and more abundant than those in fished 'blue zones' of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but they are also better able to cope with cyclone damage, according to a long-term study published today in Current Biology.

The work was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and JCU and they've got scientists available today to talk about it. See the full release and media contacts below.

And also on the impacts of dredging...

This week the AIMS and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority released a report on the impacts of dredging on the Reef-and they've also scientists available to talk to that.

More details below.

Plus: Al Jazeera, Ebola and more at the World Conference of Science Journalists

Head to Korea this June to network with science journalists from around the world and discuss current reporting issues including Ebola at the World Conference of Science Journalists.

And after the conference, visit Fukushima on a study trip with the Japanese Association of Science and Technology Journalists.

More on both of these below.

Kind regards,
Niall


In this bulletin:

  *   Twice the coral trout in Great Barrier Reef protected zones
  *   The down-low of dredging impacts on the reef
  *   Al Jazeera, Ebola and more at the World Conference of Science Journalists
  *   And after Korea, head to Fukushima






Twice the coral trout in Great Barrier Reef protected zones

Published earlier this morning in Current Biology

Backgrounder, images, video and the full paper available on our website: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/embargoed/coral-trout<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=738a4aac8c&e=ed88615ced>

[https://gallery.mailchimp.com/d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf/images/43ffb5dc-804b-423a-ba7b-d0ed8a80c932.png]

                         Coral trout. Image: LTMP (c) AIMS




Coral trout in protected 'green zones' are not only bigger and more abundant than those in fished 'blue zones' of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but they are also better able to cope with cyclone damage, according to a long-term study published today in Current Biology.

The coral trout biomass has more than doubled since the 1980s in the green zones with most of the growth occurring since the 2004 rezoning. These and other changes identified by the study show that the green zones are contributing to the health of the Great Barrier Reef and that similar approaches may be beneficial for coral reefs around the world.

The joint project between the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University combined a vast amount of information from underwater surveys carried out from 1983-2012, on reefs spread across approximately 150,000 km2 (more than 40 per cent) of the Marine Park.

The Marine Park was rezoned in 2004, and marine reserves where fishing is prohibited (called 'green zones' because of their colour on the zoning maps of the Marine Park), were expanded to cover about one-third of the total Park area.  These green zones previously made up less than five percent of the Park.

The study demonstrated that the Reef's network of green zones are yielding wide-scale population increases for coral trout, the primary target species of both the commercial and recreational sectors of the hook-line fishery.  It also found that reefs in green zones supported higher numbers of large, reproductively-mature coral trout, even after being damaged by cyclones-such as tropical cyclone Hamish, which hit the reef in 2009.

The findings provide compelling evidence that effective protection within green zone networks can play a critical role in conserving marine biodiversity and enhancing the sustainability of targeted fish populations.

The study received funding from the Australian Government's Marine and Tropical Research Facility (MTSRF) and the National Environmental Research Program (NERP), the Research Council (ARC), the CRC Reef Research Centre, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

 "It's heartening to know the green zones are working as we had expected," said lead author Michael Emslie from AIMS. "Among the world's coral reefs, fishing on the Great Barrier Reef is relatively light but it has still reduced the number and average size of the few fish species that are taken by fishers.  Data since the 1980s show that green zones have been effective in restoring numbers of coral trout to their former levels".

David Williamson, a co-author from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies  said "We expected to see some declines in coral trout biomass on reefs that remained open to fishing after the rezoning due to the increased concentration of fishing effort on those reefs, a so-called 'squeeze effect'. Instead we found that coral trout biomass remained stable on fished reefs in areas that avoided the impacts of Cyclone Hamish, while it increased significantly on green zone reefs, leading to an overall increase in coral trout biomass across those regions. It's a really positive result for both the fish and the fishery."

The study suggests that the original Marine Park zoning plan that was put in place in the 1980s began to improve fish stocks, but that the expanded protection in 2004 greatly improved on this. Hugh Sweatman, also of AIMS and co-author of the paper, said "Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is looked upon as a benchmark for large-scale reserve networks around the world. Unlike many places where coral reefs are found, Australia is a developed country where fishing is fairly light and well regulated.

Yet even here we see clear effects of fishing - the benefits of no-take areas would be much more obvious where large coastal populations depend on reefs for their daily food, so fishing is more intense and everything is taken. The details of our findings suggest that reserves, such as green zones, will help reef fishes cope with some present and future stresses, and so help maintain coral reef fish populations as we know them."

For interview:

  *   Dr Hugh Sweatman (scientist), sweatman at aims.gov.au<mailto:sweatman at aims.gov.au>; +61 419 986 746

Media contacts:

  *   Niall Byrne, Science in Public (for AIMS), niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au>, +61 417 131 977
  *   Georgina Kenyon (AIMS), g.kenyon at aims.gov.au<mailto:g.kenyon at aims.gov.au>; +61 7 4753 4265; +61 418 729 265
  *   Eleanor Gregory (JCU), eleanor.gregory at jcu.edu.au<mailto:eleanor.gregory at jcu.edu.au>; +61 (7) 4781-6067

Backgrounder, images, video and the full paper available on our website: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/embargoed/coral-trout<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=9feedf06fe&e=ed88615ced>







The down-low of dredging impacts on the reef

New report released this week by AIMS and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

An independent compilation of knowledge about the effects of dredging and sediment disposal on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has found the impacts will differ, depending on the location, timing, size and type of dredging and disposal activity.

The Dredge Synthesis Report was produced by a 19-member panel of experts, brought together through a joint initiative of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and AIMS.

The technical and scientific experts - with a range of skills from oceanographic modelling to coral ecology - were asked to review and synthesise existing studies and data on the biophysical effects of dredging and disposal, while also identifying key knowledge gaps.

The outcome is an overview of the potential impacts of dredging and disposal on habitats such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows, and on fish and species of conservation concern such as dugong or marine turtles.

Among its key findings, the panel concluded:

  *   In terms of direct effects, dredging and burial of seafloor habitats during disposal can have substantial impacts at a local level, but have only a small impact on the broader Great Barrier Reef and its biodiversity as a whole.
  *   In terms of indirect effects, sediments released by dredging and disposal have the potential to stay suspended in the water and move. This may be contributing significantly to the long-term chronic increase in fine suspended sediments in inshore areas, however there wasn't consensus among the panelists on the extent to which this happens and its impact on biodiversity.
  *   Dredging and disposal may be a significant source of fine sediments in the World Heritage Area, in addition to other sources, such as land run-off. A general comparison shows past large dredging projects produced amounts of fine sediment similar in magnitude to natural loads coming from land run-off in the same region.
  *   The recent policy commitments to ban disposal of capital dredge material in marine environments will mean future disposal, which will be limited to maintenance dredging, will contribute much less fine sediment. This reduced amount will still need to be considered in the context of other cumulative impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

You can r<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=d955747baa&e=ed88615ced>ead the full story on the GBRMPA website<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=5d207c86b9&e=ed88615ced>, or download the full report here.<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=68c4f249e7&e=ed88615ced>

For interview:

  *   Dr Britta Schaffelke, Research Program Leader at AIMS, b.schaffelke at aims.gov.au<mailto:b.schaffelke at aims.gov.au>; +61 (7) 4753 4382

Media contact:

  *   GBRMPA media team on +61 (7) 4750 0846.






Al Jazeera, Ebola and more at the World Conference of Science Journalists

8-12 June 2015 in Seoul, Korea

Al Jazeera employs more than 4,000 staff from over 70 nationalities, and broadcasts to more than 220 million households in more than 100 countries. Hear from the Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network Dr Mostefa Souag, as he keynotes the next World Conference of Science Journalists in Korea.

Other speakers include a Nobel Prize winner and a Pulitzer Prize winner, and there are sessions on reporting from the Ebola hot zone and what to do with all the data we're collecting.

Network with science journalists from around the world, discuss current reporting issues and visit Seoul at the same time.

Registration for the conference is now open. More at www.wcsj2015.or.kr<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=f77646c42b&e=ed88615ced>.

And after Korea, head to Fukushima

Get to know the real situation in Japan by joining a post-conference study trip in Fukushima, run by the Japanese Association of Science and Technology Journalists (JASTJ).

Dates and other details are yet to be confirmed, but JASTJ anticipates that the cost of the tips will be subsidised - you just need a US$100 deposit to secure your place.

Stay tuned for more details, or contact Mariko Takahashi on takahashi-m5 at asahi.com<mailto:takahashi-m5 at asahi.com>.






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