Intertidal wetlands of Port Curtis : ecological patterns and processes and their implications
reportposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by R Connolly, D Currie, K Danaher, M Dunning, Alistair Melzer, J Platten, Damon Shearer, Peter Stratford, P Teasdale, Maria Vandergragt
Port Curtis is an outstanding natural harbour supporting extensive industrial development along the western shoreline and having large tracts of natural intertidal wetlands elsewhere. Plans for further coastal development and port extension are well advanced, yet the port is adjacent to, and in some places inside, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage Area. The stakeholder landscape is dominated by industrial groups and there are good levels of awareness of the need for protection and/or replacement of wetlands. Academic and government research institutions have become active only recently in Port Curtis, and probably because of this there have been fewer scientific studies of wetlands here than in bays close to other major coastal cities in Australia. As a result, the values of intertidal wetlands in Port Curtis are largely unknown (Melzer & Tanner 2005). Although recreational and commercial fishing are of obvious importance to the local community, basic ecological and economic attributes of fisheries species associated with wetlands have not been quantified. The overall objective of the Intertidal Wetlands study was to determine the ecological functions and importance of the different intertidal wetland habitats of Port Curtis. Investigations focused on the soft-sediment intertidal wetland habitats in Port Curtis, namely: saltflats, saltmarsh, mangroves, mudflats and seagrass. The roles of these intertidal habitats in ecological processes in deeper parts of the port were also addressed. The descriptive ecology in this report provides useful information about intertidal wetland processes, structures and distributions to contribute to the development of management options for the maintenance and protection of wetlands.