The Gold Coast is located approximately midway down the east coast of Australia. It is the most heavily developed region on Australia’s coastline, and its 57km of beaches form the principal social and economic focus for both residents and visitors (Turner et al, 2004). As is typical on the Australian east coast, beaches of the southern Gold Coast are dynamic and energetic. The nearshore morphology is characterized by a double bar system. The inner bar changes constantly due to the varying wave climate, while the outer bar is less active, though during storms it can produce breaking waves higher than 5m. The spring tide range is approximately 1.5m, with significant wave heights measuring 0.5-5+m (2004).
The Gold Coast features a network of over 230km of natural and artificial tidal waterways, in which the Broadwater plays a crucial role (Mirfenderesk & Tomlinson, 2008). This shallow inshore area is separated from the Pacific Ocean by North and South Stradbroke Islands and connected to it through a manmade navigation channel (Gold Coast Seaway) and Jumpinpin Bar, a tidal inlet between the islands. Four major river systems and a series of creeks flow into the Pacific through the Broadwater.
The Gold Coast Seaway and Jumpinpin Bar are vital to the health of the waterways as they regulate the exchange of fresh and saline water, sand, nutrients, organisms, and pollutants between the estuaries and open ocean (Mirfendesk et al, 2008). Through mixing and exchanging with the open ocean, the Broadwater acts as a buffer, absorbing and then conveying the pollutants from sewage, storm water, agricultural runoff, etc. of more than 90% of the Gold Coast.
Large eddies are formed on the ebb tide and transport the majority of pollutants to the ocean. If, because of tidal asymmetry, the ebb discharge failed to travel far enough, it would return to the estuary with the following flood tide. Some organisms, which must spend some of their life cycle in the estuaries, depend on this same mechanism to enter the Broadwater. Thus, any activity that alters the functioning of these tidal inlets can greatly impact the estuarine and marine environments (2008).
Bounded by Latitudes 28.12.00 and 27.30.00 and Longitudes 153.27.00 and 153 48.00, the Gold Coast fishery covers an area of approximately 480 square nautical miles (Joyce & Sumpton, 1999).
Demersal or bottom fishing activities within the fishery are performed in waters between 36 and 50 fathoms. Target species include snapper, pearl perch, teraglin, jobfish, yellowtail kingfish, amberjack, samson fish, cobia and dolphin fish. Generally, the demersal stocks of fish that inhabit the deeper outer slopes have been only lightly or under-exploited by charter fleets due to distance offshore and the usually strong current found in the wider areas (1999).
Ecologically, this demersal fishery is integrated with other fisheries, such as the pelagic fishery. Non-consumptive uses of reef resources (e.g. ecotourism, recreational diving and scientific research) are also economically important and can conflict with commercial or recreational fisheries (1999).
The Gold Coast’s coastal location and rapidly growing population make it particularly vulnerable to climate change, which has the potential to drastically affect the local community, infrastructure, environment and economy (CSIRO, 2009). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise by 18-79cm or more within the next hundred years, while Australian scientists forecast that by 2060 to 2070 the twice yearly king tide, which measures 40-50cm higher than the monthly peak, could occur every month (CSIRO 2009).
Intense foreshore development has already made beach erosion an ever-present threat on the Gold Coast (Turner et al, 2008). However, this threat is greatly intensified by the likelihood of more frequent or severe weather events, global warming and rising sea levels in the coming decades (CSIRO, 2009).
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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). King tides – a glimpse of future sea level rise [Internet]. [updated 2009 Jan 11] [cited 2009 Oct 29]. Available from: http://www.csiro.au/news/King-Tides-Future-Sea-Level-Rise.html
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative [Internet]. [updated 2009 Apr 30] [cited 2009 Oct 29]. Available from: http://www.csiro.au/partnerships/seqcari.html
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Sustainable Cities and Coasts in a Changing Climate [Internet]. [updated 2009 May 14] [cited 2009 Oct 29]. Available from: http://www.csiro.au/resources/sustainable-cities-brochure.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.
Joyce R, Sumpton W, 1999. The Charter Boat Fishery off the Gold Coast, Queensland: Data Summary 1994-1999. Australian Marinelife Institute Inc.
Mirfenderesk H & Tomlinson R, 2008. Observation and analysis of hydrodynamic parameters in tidal inlets in a predominantly semidiurnal regime. Journal of Coastal Research.
Turner IL, Aarninkhof SGJ, Dronkers TDT, McGrath J, 2004. CZM Applications of Argus Coastal Imaging at the Gold Coast, Australia. Journal of coastal Research 20(3):739-752.
Zann, P. Our Sea, Our Future: Major findings of the State of the Marine Environment Report for Australia [Internet]. [updated 1995]. Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories; [cited 2009 Oct 25]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/publications/general/pubs/nmb.pdf