The city of Brisbane is situated on the Brisbane River, approximately 12 miles from Moreton Bay, on the east coast of Australia. Australia’s third largest city, Brisbane also contains the country’s third busiest port, based at the mouth of the Brisbane River. The Port of Brisbane includes the main international shipping channel across Moreton Bay, extending 56 miles north and dredged to maintain a depth of 45.9 feet at the lowest tide.
Moreton Bay stretches approximately 77.7 miles from Caloundra in the north, almost to Surfers Paradise in the south. Several major rivers, including the Brisbane River, empty into the bay, which contains a highly diverse and environmentally significant variety of ecosystems, including forests, mangroves, wetlands, mudflats, sandbanks, islands, seagrass beds and coral reefs (QCC & AMCS. 2007). Moreton Bay Marine Park is listed under the international RAMSAR convention for the value of its wetlands (2007) and is one of the state of Queensland's most beautiful natural assets and important coastal resources (South East Queensland Regional Strategic Group, 2000).
The Port of Brisbane is an important centre for the Australian fishing industry (Moore et al, 2007), and its surrounding waters support a large number of recreational and commercial fisheries, including the Queensland Commercial Collection fishery, crab fisheries, eel fishery, line fishery, net fisheries, and trawl fishery (QPIF, 2007).
Target species for the commercial market include:
Approximately 740 species of fish are found in Moreton Bay Marine Park, and there are concerns that fishing effort in the area is on the rise. Findings by the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) and Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) maintain that over-fishing and inappropriate fishing methods threaten the viability of the bay’s complex ecosystems (2007). According to the QCC and AMCS, turtles and dugongs continue to drown in crab pots and gillnets, while the level of bycatch and seabed disturbance by prawn trawlers is currently unacceptable. It is hoped that rezoning of the Park will help to secure the health and productivity of the bay’s fish populations (QCC & AMCS, 2007),
A large marine ecosystem bordering Australia’s fastest growing region (Chilvers et al, 2005), Moreton Bay is one of the only places in the world where a major dugong population exists beside a major city (QCC & AMCS, 2007): The bay is also home to a large number of other species, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks (DERM, 2009), 740 species of fish, 61 species of coral, and – each year – around 60,000 migratory birds (QCC & AMCS, 2007). Meanwhile, the neighbouring human population exceeds 1.6 million and is increasing annually by 10 to 13%, with significant impacts on the marine environment (Chilvers et al, 2005).
In March 2009, the MV Pacific Adventurer container ship caused a massive oil spill off the coast of Queensland, dumping 100 tonnes of oil and 30 tonnes of fuel and ammonium nitrate on Brisbane's suburban beaches (Ironside et al, 2009). In October 2009, significant numbers of whales and endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles were found to be dying in Moreton Bay, raising fresh concerns over the bay’s health and water quality (Stolz, 2009). In the same month, a new report showed that the bay’s overall water quality had declined significantly, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on improving sewerage treatment and run-off controls (Williams, 2009). Global warming also poses a serious threat to Moreton Bay’s ecosystems, and the health of the bay’s corals has already declined significantly in several important areas (2007).
Healthy Waterways has found that if current trends continue, by 2026 the viability of south-east Queensland’s A$10,500 million (US$9770 million) tourism industry, A$260 million (US$242 million) recreational fishing industry and A$60.1 million (US$56 million) commercial fishing industry will be at risk. These industries rely upon a healthy and vibrant ecosystem, and would not exist without it (QCC & AMCS, 2007).
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Chilvers BL, Lawler LR, Macknight F, Marsh H, Noad M, Paterson R. 2005. Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia: an example of the co-existence of significant marine mammal populations and large-scale coastal development. Biological Conservation 122 (4):559-571.
Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), Moreton Bay Marine Park: Nature, culture and history [Internet]. [updated 2009 October 6]. Queensland Government; [cited 2009 November 12]. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/moreton-bay/culture.html
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009. A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the East Marine Region. Kingston: Commonwealth of Australia.
Ironside R, Caldwell A, Williams B. 2009. Pacific Adventurer oil spill a disaster says Anna Bligh. Courier-Mail: March 13, 2009
Moore A, Summserson R, Sahlqvist P, Kellett S, McNee A, Maller C, Vieira S, Stakelum P, Larcombe J, Woodhams J, Pickworth J. Regional Profile—East Marine Region: Description of commercial, recreational and charter fishing activities [Internet]. [updated 2007]. Bureau of Rural Sciences; [cited 2009 Nov 9]. Available from: www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/publications/east/pubs/profile-chap-5.rtf
Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) & Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), Moreton Bay still in the Balance: Conservation input to the EPA planning process [Internet]. [updated 2007 May 31]. [cited 2009 Nov 4]. Available from: http://www.savemoretonbay.org.au/images/moreton_bay_epa_meeting.pdf
Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF). Commercial fisheries [Internet]. [updated 2009 Aug 3] Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. [cited 2009 Nov 12]. Available from: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/28_140.htm
South East Queensland Regional Strategic Group. 2000. Strategic Guide to Natural Resource Management in South East Queensland. p. 56.
Stolz G. 2009. Mud Island becomes dumping ground for dead whales. Courier Mail:19 October 2009.
Williams B. 2009. Moreton Bay water quality results take plunge. Courier Mail: 22 October 2009.