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Contribution of estuaries to commercial fisheries in temperate Western Australia and the concept of estuarine dependence

Lenanton, R.C.J. and Potter, I.C. (1987) Contribution of estuaries to commercial fisheries in temperate Western Australia and the concept of estuarine dependence. Estuaries, 10 (1). pp. 28-35.

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Fisheries catch statistics for temperate Western Australia are considered in conjunction with life cycle data to elucidate the importance of estuaries to the commercial and recreational fisheries in this region. The data are used to discuss whether the term estuarine-dependent is strictly applicable to all species of finfish found in abundance in estuaries. Between 1976 and 1984, 96 species of finfish, 7 species of crustaceans and 12 species of mollusks contributed to the large commercial fishery in estuaries, protected coastal areas and open marine waters of temperate Western Australia. The mean annual weight and monetary value (in 1984 terms) of this fishery was 21,355 t and $A151.3×106. The contribution of the weight (4,340 t) and value ($A3.7×106) of the estuarine-dependent species to the total fishery was 20.3 and 2.4%, respectively. Estuarine-dependent marine species frequently use protected inshore waters in temperate Western Australia, and have to do so when they occur in subtropical regions in Western Australia where there are no permanent estuaries. Even the semi-anadromous Perth herring and some species which are estuarine sensu stricto in south-western Australia complete their life cycle within the marine waters of this latter more northern region. Since virtually none of the commercially important marine species in temperate Western Australia can be considered to be entirely dependent on estuaries, and a similar conclusion is valid for many species of marine teleosts found in abundance in estuaries in temperate waters elsewhere in the world, these marine species would be best regarded as estuarine opportunists rather than estuarine dependents.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © 1987 Estuarine Research Federation.
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