Language:  GlossaryImagesHelp
 
Home: ABOUT: Ecology: Ecosystems: Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs): Northeast Australian Shelf – Great Barrier Reef LME
Advanced Search | an expanded view of Topics and Knowledge in the Atlas
 Login for Members

 Username
 
 Password
 

Forgotten your Password?

Not a Member? Join Now

 
Navigate the Atlas:
 3 SUB-TOPICS:
 10 RELATED TOPICS:
 Topic Overview
 Editors
 
Northeast Australian Shelf – Great Barrier Reef LME Maintained by FAO-FI  
Text-only     Printer-friendly version             
Introduction
 
The Northeast Australian Shelf – Great Barrier Reef Large Marine Ecosystem (NE Australia - GBR LME) is found along the north-eastern coast of Australia and is characterized by its tropical climate. It is distinguished by the Great Barrier Reef, a system of coral reefs that stretches more than 2,000 kilometres. The GBR Marine Park is the largest marine protected area in the world and contains high biological diversity with many rare species: 359 species of hard coral are found, along with 1,500 fish species, 22 seabird species and at least 5,000 species of molluscs. The marine tourism industry is a major contributor to the Australian economy and has expanded considerably since the 1980s. It now supports more than 820 operators, generates $4.2 billion annually, and attracts 1.8 million visitors each year.
An aerial view of the northern Great Barrier Reef near Lizard Island.
Photo title: An aerial view of the northern Great Barrier Reef near Lizard Island.
Photo credit: ©2006 RJBeeden, www.gardenofbeeden.com
 
Productivity and Fisheries
 
Barramundi Cod, Cromileptes altivelis, is a popular recreational fish species.Environmental conditions along northeast Australia inhibit the development of highly productive upwelling systems like those occurring along the western margins of North America, South America and Africa. The GBR waters are relatively low in nutrients yet commercial and recreational fishing remain a huge industry: the commercial sector annually harvests about 24,000 tonnes of seafood while the 800,000 recreational fishers in Queensland annually catch between 3,500 and 4,300 tonnes. Crustaceans, scallops and molluscs are also caught and a large trawl fishery targets prawns. Traditional harvesting, including dugong, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders is confined to areas close to Aboriginal communities. For a more detailed analysis on the impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems, see data collected by the University of British Columbia Fisheries Center.
Photo title: Barramundi Cod, Cromileptes altivelis, is a popular recreational fish species.
Photo credit: ©2006 RJBeeden, www.gardenofbeeden.com
 
Pollution and Ecosystem Health
 
Terrestrial runoff can have a significant impact on the water quality of the GBR. Excess nutrients can adversely impact coral reef systems and may lead to changes in biodiversity. Tourism-related activities can potentially affect the environment through the pollution of water by boats and the disturbance of species and habitats. Recreational fishermen tend to target and remove larger predatory species. Another major source of environmental impacts is the provision of infrastructure to support tourism (airports, accommodation, sewage treatment facilities, moorings, and marine transport). Fragile or pristine environments are especially susceptible to disturbance. The GBR is also threatened by increased shipping as a number of substantial ports line the coastline and navigation in the Torres Strait is intense. The Crown-of-Thorns starfish, a highly productive coral-eating echinoderm that can devastate coral reefs, has few predators in the environment and their periodic outbreaks may be linked to human impacts such as increased nutrient run off from land.
 
Socio-economics and Governance
 
Sweetlips in the coral garden of Thetford Reef, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef.This LME is jointly managed by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments. The GBR Marine Park Act 1975 was one of the first pieces of legislation in the world to apply the concept of sustainable development to the management of a large natural area. The GBR Marine Park Authority (established in 1975) aims to protect the natural ecosystems of the GBR and to ensure that fishing does not have unacceptable ecological impacts. The recently implemented Representative Areas Program was designed to protect biodiversity. The Commonwealth Government developed a National Action Plan for Tourism in 1998 which reaffirms conservation and careful management of the environment as essential to the long-term viability of the tourism industry, makes a commitment to ecologically sustainable development and recognizes that environmental considerations should be an integral part of economic decisions. Traditional harvesting practices by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders are managed by the Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and Papua New Guinea. This treaty requires that traditional inhabitants of both countries participate in sustainable resource use within the Treaty area.
Photo title: Sweetlips in the coral garden of Thetford Reef, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef.
Photo credit: ©2006 RJBeeden, www.gardenofbeeden.com
 
 
 
 
All  (37) News   (16) Websites   (4) Documents   (4) Books   (8) Multimedia   (3) Projects   (1) Institutional Contact   (1)
 All
 
News
Websites
The partnership between BHP Billiton, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Census of Marine Life and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) will allow Australian reef sites to be included in the CReefs global research initiative. CReefs - the Australian Node The partnership between BHP Billiton, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Ce...  
Website of the GBRMPA, the principal adviser to the Commonwealth Government on the care and development of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Website of the GBRMPA, the principal adviser to the Commonwealth Government on ...  
A description of the key marine species groups including their status, habitat and distribution, regional significance, threats and information gaps. Key Marine Species of the Northern Planning Area, Australia A description of the key marine species groups including their status, habitat ...  
The largest community-based coral reef monitoring program in Australia. Reef Check Australia The largest community-based coral reef monitoring program in Australia....  
  1  2  Next » 
976 Topics - 5511 Related Knowledge - 11393 Members - 48 Editors
freeMem:136,566,168 totMem:471,072,768 reqNum:1132788 openSessions:0 generationTime:2014/04/24 04:48:08