australia tagged posts

Australia aims to be Noah’s ark for corals 

An amazing project is unfolding in the remote Queensland town of Port Douglas which showcases the best science has to offer our society. They’re building a new ark for coral. And there isn’t a moment to lose. Great Barrier Reef Legacy, headquartered in Port Douglas, is working with Traditional Owners, industry and corporate partners, scientific collaborators, government organizations, and tourism operators to establish the world’s first Living Coral Biobank.

Like the mythical Noah’s ark, this project aims to conserve the genetic diversity of hard coral species and catalogue, collect, and store living fragments, tissue, and genetic samples from 400 coral species on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and 400 coral species from all over the world.

Found worldwide, coral reefs are kn...

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Australian authorities to buy out fisheries, citing climate crisis

The federal government will spend $20m to buy out fisheries in Australia’s south-east in part because the climate crisis is affecting population numbers of some species, making current fishing levels unsustainable. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority will buy back vessel permits in the south-east trawl fishery, which is the largest commonwealth-managed fin fish fishery in Australia.

It is the first time the authority has said it will conduct a buyout because of climate change and environmental factors, which are preventing the recovery of some populations.

The government announced $24m in the March budget for a structural adjustment package for the fishery, the bulk of which is for the buyouts to try to ensure its long-term sustainability.

The authority told a Senate ...

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Common dolphin populations at risk

While consumers look out for the Dolphin Safe mark on seafood purchases, a major research stocktake of Australian-New Zealand waters gives new guidelines to managers of dolphin fisheries. The extensive new genomic study of almost 500 common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), spanning multiple spatial areas of more than 1500 sq km from the southern and east coast of Australia to Tasmania and New Zealand, calls for greater collaboration between the two countries’ conservation and fisheries plans. 

Just published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the study of DNA diversity of several dolphin populations in Australia and NZ suggests connectivity between several populations of common dolphins across the Tasman Sea. 

The common dolphins of the Pacific Ocean (eastern Australia and NZ) are highly...

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South Australia Starts Ban on Single-use Plastic

This week marks South Australia becoming the first State or Territory in Australia to ban single-use plastic products with drinking straws, stirrers and cutlery to be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution across the state.

The legislation was passed in Parliament last year with South Australia’s Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 becoming the first legislation of its kind in Australia.

Following this initial phase of plastic banning, on 1st March 2022, oxo-degradable plastic products, as well as expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers will also be banned.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the beginning of South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics today, saying the ban will save the li...

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Marine heatwave threatening coral reefs off WA coast

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas on Feb. 20, 2017.

With WA’s coastline enduring a marine heatwave event, marine scientists have raised concerns about coral bleaching events along the Coral Coast. Sea surface temperatures were up to 3C warmer than average in January, and are expected to reach their highest levels in a decade by April, according to data from the CSIRO.

Australian Institute of Marine Science’s coral ecologist Dr James Gilmour, pictured, believes the thermal stress of the heatwave may lead to coral bleaching events in Ningaloo, Shark Bay and the Abrolhos Islands.

“Low level bleaching has already been observed in parts of Exmouth Gulf,” he said.

“While the recent tropical low has reduced environmental temperatures, the risk of bleaching will continue in the coming weeks.”

The Bureau of Meteorology says ...

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Australia’s Marine (un)Protected Areas

A coral reef impacted by a severe bleaching event

Last week Australia joined a new alliance of 40 countries pledging to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 from pollution, overfishing, climate change and other environmental threats. Australia already boasts one of the largest networks of marine protected areas in the world, with about half of Commonwealth waters around mainland Australia under some form of protection. 

Job done? Actually, no. 

Despite the size of our protected areas, marine wildlife continues to vanish. A government report card recently scored the Great Barrier Reef a “D” for its failing health. Meanwhile, commercial fishing depletes non-target or non-economic species as collateral damage, and damages marine habitats through trawling, the marine equivalent of clear felling forests...

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Endangered Australian fish being sold in shops and restaurants

A worker prepares a fish for sale. Some endangered fish species caught in Australian waters are being sold in shop and fish markets. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Endangered fish species are being routinely sold to Australian and international consumers thanks to a little-known feature of environmental laws that allows for the species to be commercially fished. Under Australian environmental laws, marine species that are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered are classified as “no take” species, meaning they cannot be sold or exported.

But species such as blue warehou, eastern gemfish and scalloped hammerhead, which are eligible for listing, are instead categorised as “conservation dependent”, meaning they can be caught in Australian waters and sold in shops, fish markets and restaurants, or exported, despite being considered threatened.

Marine conservationists have long argued for the removal of this category from Austra...

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Proposal to open Ningaloo Reef to oil and gas exploration

The Australian government has released a proposal to potentially open the waters off Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay for oil and gas. The acreage release process asks members of the industry to nominate areas they are interested in for oil and gas exploration, then to put those nominations out for public comment. The government will then consider the public comments and pull together a formal release of areas, for which oil and gas companies will bid. Environmentalists have stated that is move makes it clear that the industry intends to push south from the Pilbara into these ecotourism hotspots.

“The very large areas off Ningaloo are startling, to be honest. It is extraordinary that the government would consider releasing these areas so close to the reef,” Protect Ningaloo director Pau...

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Australia’s deep-sea canyons feature coral gardens

The deep-sea isn’t the barren, bizarre environment we once thought it to be. It can be brimming with life, often in unexpected shapes. Bremer Canyon Marine Park is already well-known as a biodiversity hotspot. All sorts of whales and dolphins, fish and seabirds, call it home. Marine scientists have been conducting research on megafauna in the area for over a decade, but there’s still much more to discover.

In the most recent survey, researchers at the University of Western Australia teamed up with the philanthropic Schmidt Ocean Institute to explore the deeper parts of the sea — specifically, the canyon itself.

Using the deep-sea remotely operated vehicle, SuBastian, which is capable of sampling depths to 4,500 meters, they set out to explore the depths of Bremer Canyon.

The canyon ...

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Heatwave Causes Extreme Coral Bleaching In Australian Marine Park

Residents of the coral reefs in Lord Howe Island Marine Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been hit with widespread coral bleaching

The world’s southernmost coral reefs have fallen victim to climate change. According to reports, the Lord Howe Island Marine Park is experiencing severe coral bleaching.

In some areas, about 90 percent of reefs have been damaged. Scientists said that this is the worst coral bleaching that the UNESCO World Heritage Site has experienced in recent memory.

Warm Summer Water Causes Widespread Coral Bleaching

Researchers from Newcastle University, James Cook University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have surveyed the area for the past two weeks. They revealed that the bleaching occurred over the past summer, peaking in March, due to sustained heatwaves and warm ocean water temperature.

They also reported that the bleaching is at its most severe in shallow w...

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