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Trophodynamics of the eastern Great Australian Bight ecosystem: ecological change associated with the growth of Australia’s largest fishery


Goldsworthy, SD and Page, B and Rogers, PJ and Bulman, C and Wiebkin, A and McLeay, LJ and Einoder, L and Baylis, AMM and Braley, M and Caines, R and Daly, K and Huveneers, C and Peters, K and Lowther, AD and Ward, TM, Trophodynamics of the eastern Great Australian Bight ecosystem: ecological change associated with the growth of Australia's largest fishery, Ecological Modelling, 255 pp. 38-57. ISSN 0304-3800 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Crown Copyright © 2013 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.01.006


We used the Ecopath with Ecosim software to develop a trophic mass-balance model of the eastern Great Australian Bight ecosystem, off southern Australia. Results provide an ecosystem perspective of Australia's largest fishery, the South Australian sardine fishery, by placing its establishment and growth in the context of other dynamic changes in the ecosystem, including: the development of other fisheries; changing abundances of apex predator populations and oceanographic change. We investigated the potential impacts of the sardine fishery on high tropic level predators, particularly land-breeding seals and seabirds which may be suitable ecological performance indicators of ecosystem health. Results indicate that despite the rapid growth of the sardine fishery since 1991, there has likely been a negligible fishery impact on other modelled groups, suggesting that current levels of fishing effort are not impacting negatively on the broader ecosystem structure and function in the eastern Great Australian Bight. Results highlight the importance of small pelagic fish to higher trophic levels, the trophic changes that have resulted from loss and recovery of apex predator populations, and the potential pivotal role of cephalopod biomass in regulating ‘bottom-up’ trophic processes. The ability to resolve and attribute potential impacts from multiple fisheries, other human impacts and ecological change in this poorly understood region is highlighted by the study, and will be critical to ensure future ecologically sustainable development within the region.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:trophodynamic modelling, ecological performance indicators, ecological allocation, forage fish
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna)
UTAS Author:Ward, TM (Associate Professor Timothy Ward)
ID Code:147602
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:35
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2021-11-09
Last Modified:2021-12-09

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