February 26, 2013
From identifying what's on the end of your fishing line, to finding out which fishes occur in your local waters, FishMap has the answers.
Under the Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation of Australia (IMCRA v4.0), Australia’s marine environment was classified into bioregions that make sense ecologically and are at a scale useful for regional planning.
The bioregions under IMCRA were an important input to Australia’s marine bioregional planning program and the subsequent identification of a network of Australian Marine Parks (AMPs). Fish distribution data were an important part of IMCRA’s classification process.
This project has improved the accessibility and utility of existing and new information about fish distributions for environmental managers, scientists and the general public. This is expected to support the understanding of biodiversity values in AMPs, in Key Ecological Features (KEFs) and across broader Commonwealth waters.
NERP Marine Biodiversity Hub scientists worked with the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) to compile, centralise and streamline access to existing fish data derived from field research and museum collections. The project drew on an improved knowledge of historic and present-day processes that relate to marine fish distributions (developed in associated research). The resulting data extend the knowledge-base to more than 4500 species of marine fishes. Data are being made available through the FishMap search interface previously developed by CSIRO and the ALA.
Outputs, outcomes and opportunities
FishMap generates customised, illustrated lists of fishes by area, depth, family or ecosystem that can be used for research, planning, management, fisheries, conservation, recreation and citizen science. It is the only resource of its kind in the world that covers virtually all species of marine fish found in the marine waters of an entire continent.
The service is being revised to include further data compiled within the NERP program that are relevant to support assessment and monitoring of AMPs and KEFs. For example, information on fishes within each reserve in the AMP network and KEFs will include the number of families, genera and endemic or listed species, and species of commercial interest. The continuing development of FishMap and the underlying datasets can provide tools to generate slices of data tailored for environmental managers: for example, endemics only, species represented in only one AMP, or species with a high proportion of their range within AMPs.
Tailored lists of fishes within each of the AMP reserves will highlight each area’s unique values and contributions to conservation management. This can help to identify key species for demographic and genetic connectivity assessment (whole-of-organism approach) across AMPs, and circumstances in which off-reserve management would support conservation and sustainable-use objectives.
A wide range of information is available only to scientists or other specialists. Making data publicly and freely available through FishMap and the ALA is an example of the Hub’s provision of broader access to scientific data: through interpretation and synthesis, and more accessible methods of data delivery.