Project number: 2004-078
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $261,442.00
Principal Investigator: Jason E. Tanner
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 29 Jun 2004 - 29 Aug 2008


Nationally the general public is developing a greater awareness about matters that relate to natural resource management and particularly the accelerating rate of degradation of coastal marine environments. However, concomitant knowledge and information that would enable the community to take a more overt role in supporting the management of these resources does not match this awareness.

There is therefore, a growing need to equip the community with relevant skills and knowledge about coastal ecosystems. The development of these skills will empower local communities and enable them to take an active role both in community based monitoring and advocacy leading in turn to improved management outcomes at local, state and national levels.

Coastal reefs provide an ideal vehicle for the development of such community based programs. These reefs are important in the provision of both food and habitat for many fisheries species and are also sites that receive high visitation rates for recreational fishing, diving and related activities. Importantly, reef systems close to metropolitan areas around Australia (and particularly the metropolitan coast of Adelaide) are degraded due to a combination of factors including waste water disposal, storm water runoff, over-fishing, invasive species and increased sediment mobility (particularly due to associated seagrass losses).

Effective mitigation and rehabilitation strategies can only be developed if managers are informed about the causal linkages between putative impacts and habitat degradation. By developing community-based programs to monitor and evaluate the status of reefs, we can make substantial progress in addressing this need .

Whereas monitoring activities need to be ongoing to provide the best opportunity for early problem detection, marine research is profoundly expensive. The use of well-trained community volunteers will provide an effective way to augment the efforts of other agencies and thus increase overall coverage of coastal ecosystems.


1. To develop a better knowledge and understanding of coastal reef ecosystems through:* Identification of appropriate indices for assessment and development of survey methodologies* Application of these methodologies to obtain baseline and time scale data for coastal reef ecosystems which is relevant to the needs of key management agencies including SA Water, EPA, and DEH.
2. To foster community ownership and participation in monitoring and assessment:* Through the development of training and education packages* By encouraging and mobilising community participation
3. To develop a credible assessment program:* Through the process of training, testing and accreditation of all participants* By undertaking scientifically rigorous evaluation of the community monitoring program.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-7308-5393-0
Author: Jason Tanner

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