Fishing industry: The widespread dieback of mangroves across northern Australia’s coastline has the commercial fishing industry worried about its future.
It is estimated around 10,000 hectares of mangroves have died along the Gulf of Carpentaria coastline, in an event being described by experts as severe and unprecedented.
Barramundi fisherman Jeff Newman has been working in the Gulf for years and has seen the mangrove dieback first hand.
“The extent of damage is a shock to me and of real concern to the [fishing] industry,” he said.
“To see it on this massive scale is unheard of.
“I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this before in the past.”
Mr Newman said the death of so many mangroves could have a disastrous impact on the local fishery.
“Any healthy ecosystem survives on the mangrove forest,” he said.
“Every marine organism either lives in the mangroves at some stage of its life or supplies food for all of the fish, prawns and crabs that we catch.
“Without that habitat, all the fish that we survive on as a commercial industry is very vulnerable.
“So it’ll have a disastrous effect on our nurseries for our small fish and it could take years for a recovery.”
Mr Newman said he’s seen mangrove forests wiped out by cyclones in the past and it’s taken five to six years to fully recover pending on favourable environmental factors.
He said it was tough to know how long it would take for the ecosystem to recover this time, if the ongoing climate issues continue.
“In my opinion it’s definitely [happened because of] hotter water and environment temperatures,” he said.
“It was very hot over our last summer, and the lack of rainfall and the lack of a wet season. It’s all contributed.”
Mr Newman believes further research and monitoring of the mangroves “is of the utmost importance” to determine what caused the dieback and what the long term effects for the fishing industry are going to be. To read more click here.