Initial baseline survey of deepwater fish in the Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth waters)

This technical report is likely to be of interest to policy makers, managers, researchers and the general public. The Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) is one of the few commonwealth marine parks readily accessible to large numbers of recreational fishers in small vessels. This project aimed to determine the composition and abundance of fish, especially those targeted by recreational fishers in deeper areas of the NMP including the National Park Zone (NPZ) at Point Cloates. Fish species composition, abundance and size composition were studied using baited remote underwater stereo-videos. The study recorded a total of 169 fish species. Recreationally targeted fish were more abundant with increasing distance from boat ramps, even allowing for the fact that water depth increases with distance from shore. The relatively remote location of the NPZ off Point Cloates explains why there are generally more fish within the NPZ than more easily accessible areas of the NMP. The report recommends follow-up surveys every 3 years, to allow comparisons between fished and unfished given that this study has provided a baseline near to the time of the establishment of the NPZ.

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