Moreton Bay Marine Park is home to over a thousand species of fish, six of the world’s seven sea turtle species, three species of dolphin and the gentle and shy dugong. It also contains a myriad of shark and ray species, thousands of mollusc species and an array of other invertebrate wildlife.
Why is the Moreton Bay Marine Park important?
Cradling the coast of south-east Queensland, Moreton Bay Marine Park is a beautiful tapestry of islands, reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, saltmarshes, rocky reefs, sheltered inlets and open ocean covering 3,400 km2 and stretching 125 km from Caloundra to the Gold Coast, near the New South Wales border.
Wildlife of Moreton Bay
Moreton Bay Marine Park is recognised internationally by the Ramsar Convention for its vitally important role as a feeding and roosting site for migratory and resident shore birds.
Many migratory waders, some no larger than a tennis ball, travel from as far as Siberia and other places in the Northern Hemisphere to feed at Moreton Bay’s extensive mudflats.
Amazingly, Moreton Bay Marine Park is the only place in the world where significant populations of dugongs and sea turtles can still be found close to a major metropolitan centre. The city of Brisbane is incredibly privileged to have this jewel at its doorstep.
Habitats of Moreton Bay
Moreton Bay is geographically positioned between the transition zone of both tropical waters and temperate waters and is a relatively shallow marine environment. These characteristics, combined with a large input of freshwater, results in a complex and fragile ecosystem that is extremely productive. These factors combine to produce a large variety of environments that allow the coexistence of an extremely diverse range of flora and fauna within the Bay.
Moreton Bay – AMCS heartland
Over the last 150 years, the bay has at times been exploited for coral mining, sand mining, whaling and commercial fishing, and has been increasingly polluted from coastal development and land based run-off. In the mid 1960s strong public opposition arose against plans for a destructive canal estate and further mining. Finally, three decades later, after a long community campaign by local conservationists, scientists, tourism groups and educators, the Moreton Bay Marine Park was declared in 1993.
The first Moreton Bay Marine Park zoning plan restricted some forms of trawling, but left 99% of the bay open to most types of fishing, with less than 1% protected in marine national park zones, also known as marine sanctuary zones – areas set aside to protect the ocean’s rich diversity of life.
In 2009, in response to ongoing community concerns, the Queensland Government released a new and improved zoning plan for Moreton Bay Marine Park. The marine park now has 16% designated marine national park zones. A further 8% of the park has conservation status in which limited extractive activities are permitted but commercial fisheries netting and trawling are not. Trawling is not allowed in a further 30% of the park.
Turtles and dugongs are protected by additional “go slow” areas where vessels must travel at slower speeds to reduce collisions and the impact of collisions.
Another review is expected to commence in 2019, providing opportunity to make further improvements to protecting the health of Moreton Bay.