Funding source: NCEAS Science for Nature and People Program, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, University of Queensland Postdoctoral Fellowship 

Fisheries support the livelihoods of 12 per cent of the world’s population, many of whom live in poor communities. The degrading sediments and nutrients of land-based activities pose a significant threat; yet they are often ignored in fisheries management.

UQ scientists are collaborating with research colleagues around the world and partnering with prominent universities, government agencies, and non-government agencies to better understand how land-based industries can work with fisheries to conserve tropical coral reef ecosystems and sustain the livelihoods of over 120 million people.

Tropical coral reef conservation is a priority for Australia’s regional leadership and a sits high on the agendas of other tropical countries mandated with developing sustainable land and marine activity plans.

The researchers are developing models that can determine the ecological and economic impacts of land use changes, such as agricultural practices, on marine ecosystems and fisheries. They’re also working on models for assessing alternative plans that would maximise economic opportunity from land use whilst protecting marine ecosystems and fisheries.

The planning tools that emerge from this research could influence the type and amount of farming and other industries acceptable to ensure healthy coral reef fisheries.

“This project brings together various disciplines to protect the health of fisheries and build the capacity of coral reef communities to grow and sustain their local economies,” said postdoctoral research fellow and lead investigator Dr Carissa Klein.

“It’s about negotiating the fragile balance between ocean conservation and sustainable livelihoods so that environmental benefits can be achieved alongside social equity and economic return.”