by Jeni Bone
Griffith University PhD student, Andrew Olds says he has found a large increase in fish numbers where coral reefs and mangroves are close together and protected by marine reserves.
Mangroves and reefs close together contribute to larger numbers of fish
From his studies on Moreton Bay marine reserves around Brisbane and the Gold Coast in south-east Queensland, Olds says the results are applicable to similar habitats on the Queensland coastline.
'We found that compared to areas that were open to fishing, we had two to four times as many of those fish in protected areas where these habitats were close together,' he explains. 'But in protected areas where they were further apart, we didn't see anywhere near that sort of increase in fish abundance.
'For the central part of Moreton Bay and other areas like that, say Hervey Bay to the north, you can have a big effect on your fish numbers if you protect areas of mangroves and coral reefs that are close together. That's for things like yellow fin bream, moses perch, black rabbit fish, which are things people like to catch out on the bay at the weekend.'
Olds states his research is important for future marine planning. 'In a lot of the areas along the coast, we do have quite a large number of green zones, but I think a study like this indicates we can potentially improve the way they work by looking at where we put them in those areas.'
More at www.griffith.edu.au