Study to help marine park planning

A NEW study on ocean currents has revealed that more closely spaced marine parks, instead of the existing large, distant parks, would be more effective for conservation and fisheries management. 

The study, by Flinders University, showed ocean currents were not the “super highways” for animal movement in the sea, they were thought to be. 

Coordinator of the study, professor Luciano Beheregaray said coastal ocean currents in parts of southern Australia not only moved animals much less than expected, but also trapped animals within near-shore regions.

The network of 19 marine parks to help protect its native species and its marine environment with sanctuary zones, the highest level of protection within the marine parks.

Professor Beheregaray said the study had found sanctuary zones were likely be too small to achieve their “desired conservation value”.

“Although it appears that several SA sanctuary zones are too small to achieve their desired conservation value, their geographic proximity to one another probably represents a reasonable starting point to maintain population connectivity in the region,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) said it was aware of the research by Flinders University and welcomed the research. 

“We welcome all new research that helps us understand the connectivity of ecosystems across our marine parks network.”

They said marine parks were established to provide a range of conservation, educational, recreational and economic benefits for the state.

“Our marine parks sanctuary zones are the result of 10 years' work and have the community's support following a long consultation period,” they said. 

The spokesperson said changes to biodiversity in the marine parks were expected and would evolve over time.

“We have established a monitoring program to detect these changes to determine the effectiveness of our marine parks network and will contribute to the 10 year review in 2022.”