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The Value of Estuarine Producers to Fisheries

Janes et al., 2022

Nutrient input from estuarine producers underpins coastal fisheries production and knowing which producers are the most responsible for fish diet helps effectively protect and restore coastal ecosystems. Focussing on the Richmond River in Australia as a case study, we sampled the main estuarine producers and estimated their proportional contributions of nutritional input to seven commercially important fisheries species using Bayesian isotope mixing models. We valued the dietary input of estuarine producers to the commercial fisheries by combining dietary contribution estimates with total annual catch data from commercial fishers.

A conservative estimate is that estuarine producers in the Richmond River Estuary contribute at least 82 725 kg (78%) of the total annual catch of the seven commercially important fish with an estimated annual value of $AU 450 117. Sea mullet and Mud crab contributed 95% of the total catch, and 93% of the total value assigned to estuarine producers. The two highest valued estuarine producers were tidal marsh (Juncus kraussii) $AU 82 432 and seagrass (Zostera capricorni) $AU 65 423. This study demonstrates the substantial role of estuarine producers to commercial fisheries production and the fisheries economy more broadly. With large areas of estuarine producers under threat globally from land clearing for agriculture, aquaculture and urbanisation, the results presented here provide evidence to support the value of coastal habitats and benefits of their preservation and restoration.

This publication was led by Holger Jänes (Deakin University, Geelong, Australia). Our lab head Daniel Ierodiaconou contributed to the publication.

Congrats to all the authors and the DU Marine Mapping Group!

To read the full article, click here.

Last edited on the July 28th, 2022.


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