Marine slightly to moderately disturbed condition (SMD)

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Slightly moderately to disturbed ecosystems are defined by ANZECC as ecosystems in which "aquatic biological diversity may have been adversely affected to a relatively small but measurable degree by human activity. The biological communities remain in a healthy condition and ecosystem integrity is largely retained. Typically, freshwater systems would have slightly to moderately cleared catchments and/or reasonably intact riparian vegetation; marine systems would have largely intact habitats and associated biological communities. Slightly to moderately disturbed systems could include rural streams receiving runoff from land disturbed to varying degrees by grazing or pastoralism, or marine ecosystems lying immediately adjacent to metropolitan areas." (ANZECC 2000; Chapter 3).

SD slightly disturbed marine ecosystems

Slightly disturbed marine ecosystems include locations (e.g. mapped as ‘Marine Wetland’ in the Qld EPA Wetland mapping) including locations identified by a technical panel or other information sources as having a small degree of change.

Significant conservation values/remnant natural assets will also be identified, where relevant, for SD waters (so that these can be recognised for protection/improvement).

Depending on availability of information, additional sub categories may be identified:

  • SD a – Slightly Disturbed waterways identified as having relatively less disturbance than other slightly modified systems (with greater capacity for improvement to HEV condition).
  • SD b – Slightly Disturbed waterways identified as having other significant conservation values/remnant natural assets.
  • SD c – Other Slightly Disturbed waterways.

Management intent for SD marine ecosystems

Protect natural condition/values and improve any slightly modified components towards natural condition (ANZECC, 2000: p 3.3-7: “stakeholders may also decide to… improve or restore the ecosystem to a substantially unmodified condition, depending on the situation”).

WQ guidelines to protect SD marine ecosystems

  • Toxicants in water: No change to natural: interpreted as 99% spp protected with 50% certainty ANZECC, 2000; Table 3.4.1, 3.4.2.).

ANZECC, 2000, Table 3.4.2 note C: “Jurisdictions may choose 99% values for some ecosystems that are more towards the slightly disturbed end of the continuum” ANZECC, 2000; p8.3-39 (Supporting Rationale and Background Information, CH 8) “For some slightly-moderately disturbed ecosystems which have higher quality waters, managers may prefer to use the 99% protection level.”

  • Toxicants in sediments: No change to natural – interpreted as no detectable chemicals from human activities, and naturally occurring toxicants not to exceed background concentrations (ANZECC, 2000; p3.5-1)
  • Physico-chemical: No change to natural – interpreted by QWQG (2006; Appendix D) as maintaining the natural distribution of water quality using 20th, 50th and 80th percentiles of good quality “natural” reference sites as a basis for maintaining natural variability
  • Biological: No change to natural biodiversity– interpreted by maintenance of biological indicators relative to suitable reference condition (ANZECC, 2000; Table 3.1.2).

MD moderately disturbed marine ecosystems

Moderately disturbed marine locations (e.g. mapped as ‘Marine Wetland’ in the Qld EPA Wetland mapping) identified by technical panel or other information sources as having a moderate degree of change (eg not identified as HEV, SD, or HD).

Significant conservation values/remnant natural assets will also be identified in MD waterways (so that these can be recognised for protection/improvement).

Depending on availability of information, additional sub categories may be identified:

  • MD a – Moderately Disturbed waterways identified as having relatively less disturbance than other slightly modified systems (with greater capacity for improvement to SD condition).
  • MD b – Moderately Disturbed waterways identified as having other significant conservation values/remnant natural assets .
  • MD c – Other Moderately Disturbed waterways.

Management intent for MD marine ecosystems

Maintain/improve water quality; protect any remnant values/assets (with some allowance for development).

(ANZECC 2000; 3.1-11: “An increased level of change might be acceptable…maintenance of biological diversity relative to a suitable reference condition should be a key management goal”).

WQ guidelines to protect MD marine ecosystems

  • Toxicants in water: 95% (and in some cases 99%) species protected with 50% certainty (Refer to ANZECC, 2000, Table 3.4.1, 3.4.2).
  • Toxicants in sediments: Refer to ANZECC, 2000 Table 3.5.1. > 90% of individuals protected (QWQG, 2006; Table 3.4.3).
  • Physico-chemical: Guideline based on 20th and /or 80th percentiles of reference data from good quality reference sites (QWQG, 2006; Tables 3.4.3, 3.4.4).
  • Biological: Guideline based on 20th and /or 80th percentiles of reference data from good quality reference sites (QWQG, 2006; Tables 3.4.3, 3.4.4).

References

Immediate marine environment off the coast of Townsville © NQ Dry Tropics 2008
Marine environment off the coast of Townsville © NQ Dry Tropics 2008

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