Dataset: Effects of changes in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning plans on reef base shoals of the Pompey, Swain and Capricorn-Bunker reefs (MTSRF Project 4.8.2)


Description

Surveys were undertaken in January/February 2009 (summer) at the Capricorn-Bunker, Pompey and Swains Groups on deepwater reef bases (shoals) in the Great Barrier Reef. In each survey, reefs were paired with one zoned 'green' (closed to fishing) and the other 'blue' (open to all fishing) - 16 pairs of reefs. The demersal habitats and vertebrate communities were sampled using non-extractive baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS), which revealed a diverse (c360 species) fauna of fish, sharks, rays and sea snakes.

Variables recorded:
Habitat composition of underlying substratum (sand, rubble, consolidated outcrop or reef), and epibenthic community (hard coral, soft coral, sponge, macroalgae, whips and gorgonians, encrusting organisms, bare substratum) - estimated from BRUVS field of view as percentage cover of each component, to nearest 10 percent.
Zone (Green, G; or Blue, B); Reef name; Habitat class (coral dominated reef; gorgonian and seawhip garden; low relief rubble field; algal meadow; open sandy seabed); Depth (m); Latitude and longitude (ship's GPS position at deployment).

Fish species were placed in categories depending on the likelihood of being caught and retained by line fishers:
Target species - (1,703 sightings, 21 species) the most desirable demersal fishes based on their market price and size, as well as their reef dwelling habits.
Bycatch species - (5,510 sightings, 85 species) undersized juveniles of target species; undesirable fishes caught by line fishers; pelagic and semi-pelagic species retained for consumption, use as bait, or released alive; all sharks and rays likely to take a baited hook.
Unfished species - (16,635 individuals, 251 species) those unlikely to be hooked because of dietary preferences or small size.

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