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Spatio-temporal distribution of reef use and applications for monitoring in Ningaloo Marine Park

Beckley, L., Smallwood, C.B., Moore, S.A. and Kobryn, H.T.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593 (2010) Spatio-temporal distribution of reef use and applications for monitoring in Ningaloo Marine Park. In: AMSA2010 New Waves in Marine Science, 4 - 8 July, Wollongong, New South Wales.


Understanding where, when, and how many people use the coast is imperative for management of natural coastal assets, conservation of marine biodiversity and location of appropriate infrastructure. This study determined the spatial and temporal distribution of recreational activities within the reef lagoon system at Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP). Geo-referenced aerial surveys, 4WD coastal surveys and interviews conducted along the entire 300km length of the NMP, throughout 2007, allowed assessment of patterns in boating and coastal activities. The use of the park is markedly seasonal with a clear increase in the number of users, and expansion of their spatial extent, to cover most of the park, during the period April to October. In the offseason (November to March), people conducting activities in the park are fewer and largely concentrated in Coral Bay and around North West Cape. A wide range of extractive activities, such as recreational fishing, and non-extractive activities, including snorkelling, surfing, sailing sports, relaxing on the beach and walking are undertaken in the NMP. While some are ubiquitous, others are highly dependent on the current zoning plan, the biophysical attributes of sites, road/track access, accommodation opportunities and tenure of the land adjacent to the park. Ongoing monitoring of use by managers is difficult because of the large area, diffuse access points and differing land tenures and, to date, has been patchy and piecemeal. Indicators that can be used to monitor usage have been explored and these include calibrated surrogates like vehicles parked adjacent to the NMP, occupancy of campsites and boat trailers at boat ramps. The results of this study provide a robust benchmark of human use as a basis for enhanced management, readily measurable indicators for monitoring and are well suited to systematic conservation planning for the next iteration of the NMP Management Plan.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Australian Marine Sciences Association Inc
Notes: Oral presentation
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