Threats to inner reefs & seagrass beds
The highest threat, grouped into the four major influencing factors that are covered in the LTSP are:
1. long-term, system-wide climate change
- sea temperature increase
- altered weather patterns
- ocean acidification, and
- sea level rise
Future predictions indicate sea level rises and temperature increases will continue, the pH of the ocean will gradually decline and weather will be more severe. These changes are likely to significantly affect most components of the Reef’s ecosystem and heritage values. For the Daintree coast the above factors, plus a greater extent of sediment laden plumes that will be associated with more intense cyclones has a significant potential on the quality of the local Inner reefs and seagrass beds.
2. Immediate, system-wide
- land-based run-off—nutrients from run-off (including links to outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish)
- sediments from run-off
- pesticides from run-off, and
- marine debris
The quality of water entering the Reef has deteriorated over the past 100 years. Inshore areas are particularly at risk from poor water quality. Agricultural practices in the catchment are improving and there have been reductions in the nutrient, sediment and pesticide loads from the catchment. There is likely to be a significant lag before overall water quality improvements are measured in the Region. Marine debris continues to affect the ecosystem—including species of conservation concern. The Daintree coast is not likely to have the level of impact compared to south of us.
We welcome you to browse the following two resources for further information about the affect of climate change on the Daintree:
This video features work by organisations such as James Cook University and CSIRO that looks at the implications of climate change for Far North Queensland.
3. Immediate, local/regional
- Coastal land use change—clearing and modifying coastal habitats and artificial barriers to flow. Changes to coastal habitats and reductions in connectivity as a result of land use change affect the Region’s ecosystem. Again not a significant threat, but improving connectivity from estuaries and further upstream by reducing barriers such as inappropriate culverts will only improve movement of fish species requiring migration from the ocean to upstream. These species includes barramundi and mangrove jack.
- Direct use—illegal fishing, collecting and poaching; incidental catch of species of conservation concern; marine debris; incompatible activities by different user groups; effects on discarded catch; retained take of predators; disposal and resuspension of dredge material; and retained take from unidentified or unprotected spawning aggregations. Some remaining impacts of fishing continue to affect the Reef’s values.