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Developing long-term indicators for the sub-tidal embayment communities of Cockburn Sound. Fisheries Research Report No. 181

Johnston, D.J., Wakefield, C.B., Sampey, A., Fromont, J. and Harris, D.C. (2008) Developing long-term indicators for the sub-tidal embayment communities of Cockburn Sound. Fisheries Research Report No. 181. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.

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    The geomorphology of Cockburn Sound is unique to the lower west coast of Australia due to the relative paucity of sheltered nearshore marine embayments along this coastline. Numerous studies on many of the commercially and/or recreationally important species that inhabit Cockburn Sound have demonstrated that for many of them this marine embayment constitutes an integral part of their life history. Since the commencement of industrial and urban development in the mid 1950s, in the waters and along the shores of Cockburn Sound, the marine fauna utilising this area have been exposed to ongoing changes in environmental quality. These detrimental, anthropogenic influences have impacted on many attributes that affect the faunal composition, including, for example, habitat alteration and/or loss.

    Recent data has also revealed that blue swimmer crab stocks in Cockburn Sound are more vulnerable than previously thought with this fishery collapsing in 2005/06. The broader impacts of the declining numbers of crabs on the ecology, i.e. predator-prey relationships, are unknown. Likewise, adult populations of snapper in the lower west coast region have been identified as being low/depleted. Recent studies on the biology of snapper have identified the nearshore marine embayments of Owen Anchorage, Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds as important sources of recruitment for the adult population. Until recently, very little research had been done on the structure of the faunal community in these embayments to which blue swimmer crab, snapper and other commercially and/or recreationally important species belong. A broader understanding of the diversity of fauna that resides in this marine embayment will provide insights into their ecological interactions and thus aid in their sustainable management.

    Publication Type: Report
    Series Name: Fisheries Research Reports
    Publisher: Department of Fisheries, Western Australia
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