North Marine Bioregion
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Seven case study locations (Keep, Daly, Roper, McArthur, Flinders, and Gilbert River estuaries, and Darwin Harbour) were used to test the utility of the Australian Landsat data archive in the Digital Earth Australia analysis platform for characterising and monitoring the condition and change in coastal habitats. A suite of analyses was undertaken including: assessing the extent of different coastal habitats, detecting coastal change including change in mangrove communities, and the distribution of intertidal areas. The work was successful in: (a) generating baseline information for the case study areas; and, (b) developing valuable monitoring tools for future use.
Relevant spatial datasets for mapping pressures were identified and collated. Pressures were categorised as resource extraction and use, pollution, habitat modification, climate, and ‘other’. Pressures included Commonwealth trawl fisheries effort, aquaculture infrastructure, location of oil and gas infrastructure, historical shipping and pollution data, location of historical seismic operations, cyclone intensity, spoil dumping, sewage outfalls, location of ports, and tourism operations. Two main pressure maps were derived i) an additive pressure hotspots map, which gives higher weight to areas with multiple pressures of high risk; and, ii) a multiplicative hotspot pressure map, which gives lower weighting to areas with multiple low risk pressures. Areas of high risk were identified, and thus possibly high benefit for management versus low risk or low associated benefit for mitigation. The information generated needs to be considered alongside robust species distribution data and interaction matrices for effective decision-making.
Of the ~80 EPBC-listed Threatened and Migratory marine species known to occur in the North Marine Bioregion, 16 were identified as priority species through consultation with research end-users and experts. The priority group consisted of three sawfishes, two river sharks, Dugong, two inshore dolphins, six shorebirds and two turtles. Dwarf and then Green Sawfish had the most data gaps, indicating that these were the most poorly-known of the selected priority species in the North Marine Bioregion, and as such are a priority for research. These were followed (in order of data gaps) by the other river sharks and sawfishes, inshore dolphins, Hawksbill Turtle, Dugong, Olive Ridley Turtle, and shorebirds. Research assessing the relevance and impact of pressures was identified as a gap for all species. New data identified during the project can fill data gaps for all 16 species, and the analysis of these datasets can improve the accuracy of distribution maps, but new data collection is still required for all sharks and sawfishes, Hawksbill Turtle, and inshore dolphins to improve data coverage for distribution modelling and mapping. Phase 1 of the project involved a gap analysis with identified numerous new datasets, both published and unpublished, that are currently not incorporated into SPRAT profiles and distributions (see Table 5). This provided an opportunity to begin compiling and analysing this information to fill current data gaps, as well as identify targeted research needs for the future. Phase 2 of the project built on collaboration with data custodians to develop data sharing agreements for use of these datasets to construct spatial models to refine and update species distributions.