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This diversity underpins the important social and economic value of
the Harbour, supporting activities such as snorkelling, SCUBA diving and recreational
fishing. The Harbour is also a nursery
for juvenile fish of many species which are the basis of important commercial
fisheries outside the Harbour. This rich
fish diversity is likely linked to the variety of habitats available throughout
the Harbour but the details of these relationships are not well understood. As
key habitats such as seagrass, mangrove and natural intertidal areas are
rapidly being lost throughout the Harbour, it becomes increasingly critical to understand
the nature of these links to biodiversity.
This theme will focus on better
understanding the dynamics of fish populations within the harbor, their key
drivers and their impact on the socio-economic benefit of key user groups.
Sydney Harbour Research Program scientists (Assoc. Prof. Will Figueria, USyd, Prof. David Booth, UTS, Prof. Iain Suthers, UNSW, A/Prof Melanie Bishop, MQ) are working alongside government agencies (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and independent funding bodies (Recreational Fishing Trust) to address this gap in knowledge.
This project is working in collaboration
with A/Prof Melanie Bishop at Macquarie University to look at the impacts of
the green enginerring of seawalls on populations of both cryptic fishes
associated directly with seawalls, as well as less tightly associated fishes
that utilise seawall areas. The project will specifically evaluate the role of
the remediated habitats as sources of additional structural complexity, food
and modifiers of community (predator/prey) landscapes.
This project builds from several
soft-sediment rehabilitation projects occurring within the Harbour (described
within the Habitat Restoration theme). The additional structure and food
resources provided by restored soft sediment habitats are likely to boost the
use of these areas by resident fishes. This project seeks to quantify patterns of use and to evaluate the
longer-term benefits these habitats may have on local fish communities.