Quantifying the exposure, protection and recovery of seafloor habitats in Spencer Gulf to prawn trawling
The Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery (SGPF), a bottom trawl fishery, is the third most valuable prawn fishery in Australia (EconSearch 2018). Demonstrating the environmental sustainability of trawling is a major challenge. Well-managed trawl fisheries aim to employ best practices that achieve a sustainable level of fish production while at the same time minimising or limiting the wider ecological effects caused through fishing gear contact with the seafloor. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fishery Standard sets out requirements that, if met, shows that a fishery has used best practices to secure fish stocks for the future, help protect the marine environment and safeguard jobs. The SGPF fishery has held MSC certification since 2011, undergoing reassessment every five years, but a recent review identified knowledge gaps that need to be addressed for the SGPF to have a successful re-assessment of their MSC certification. The review highlighted the need to visually monitor the SGPF’s associated habitats to address knowledge gaps of habitat extent, regeneration, detailed mapping, sensitivity and understanding of gear impacts. This investment will estimate the proportion of key seafloor habitats and selected by-catch species that occur inside and outside the SGPF trawl footprint, quantify the exposure and protection of seafloor habitats and by-catch species to trawling, and assess the current status of key seafloor habitats as well as estimating potential regeneration timeframes.
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