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Integrated assessment of river development on downstream marine fisheries and ecosystems

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Plagányi, É., Kenyon, R., Blamey, L., Robins, J. B., Burford, M., Pillans, R., Hutton, T., Hughes, J., Kim, S., Deng, R. A., Cannard, T., Jarrett, A., Laird, A., Lawrence, E., Miller, M. and Moeseneder, C. (2023) Integrated assessment of river development on downstream marine fisheries and ecosystems. Nature Sustainability . ISSN 2398-9629


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-023-01238-x


Demands on freshwater for human use are increasing globally, but water resource development (WRD) has substantial downstream impacts on fisheries and ecosystems. Our study evaluates trade-offs between WRDs and downstream ecosystem functioning considering alternative dam and water extraction options, diverse eco-hydrological responses and catchment-to-coast connectivity. We used a data-driven ensemble modelling approach to quantify the impacts of alternative WRDs. WRD impacts varied from weakly positive to severely negative depending on species, scenario and cross-catchment synergies. Impacts on fishery catches and the broader ecosystem (including mangroves) increased with catchment developments and volume of water removed, or if flow reduced below a threshold level. We found complex, linked-catchment dependence of banana prawns on flow and floods. Economic risks for this important fishery more than doubled under some scenarios. Sawfish emerged as the most sensitive across a range of WRD scenarios. Our findings highlight the need to consider marine ecosystems and fisheries to inform sustainable management of the world’s remaining free-flowing rivers.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:The data for the river system models are available at https://nawra-river.shinyapps.io/river/. Permission to obtain the raw fishery data needs to be granted by the relevant data custodians: Commonwealth Australian Fisheries Management Authority and NPFI (under co-management arrangements, NPFI is the delegate) for NPF data, as well as relevant state fisheries departments from both the Queensland and Northern Territory jurisdictions for barramundi and mud crabs. Data access contacts and request numbers can be provided on request to É.P., and raw model data input files will also be provided subject to relevant data agreements being in place. The environmental driver datasets are publicly available (mostly derived from http://www.bom.gov.au/), and our collated time series, together with the cyclone history and impact scores we developed, are available at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yirnujdmv22qgoe/AAAyDrOET1j6YkGbAFUbqIiva?dl=0. Source data are provided with this paper.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural ecology (General)
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural conservation
Aquaculture and Fisheries
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery conservation
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery management. Fishery policy
Agriculture > By region or country > Australia > Queensland
Live Archive:24 Nov 2023 01:49
Last Modified:24 Nov 2023 01:49

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