Located around 14km from the Brisbane CBD, Moreton Bay is undoubtedly one of Queensland’s most important coastal resources.
Its mostly blue waters- at times interrupted by algal blooms and sediment loads – are an ideal playground for boaties, recreational fishers and a range of recreationists. These waters are also the workplace for commercial fishers providing seafood for the market place and water taxis serving the barrier islands, as well as shipping channels to access the Port of Brisbane.
Primarily for Wildlife Queensland, Moreton Bay is home to an array of marine wildlife, both animal and plant. The declaration of the Bay as a RAMSAR site and the gazettal of its marine park confirm its environmental value at both state and national levels as well as on the international stage.
Has Moreton Bay changed over time since its waters were cared for by the Quandamooka people prior to European settlement? Most certainly. Activities in the bay and the catchment waterways that feed it, as well as on the adjoining land, have had a profound negative impact on the area. Dredging, dumping of dredge spoil, mining of coral, sediment loads and nutrients flowing into the bay, and pollution (particularly from plastics) have all contributed to the decline of its ecosystems. Of course natural weather events have also added to the environmental challenges the Bay faces.
Wildlife Queensland has been advised by both recreational and professional fishers that significant changes to Moreton Bay’s fish life have occurred. They describe a decline in the time taken to achieve the desired catch as well as a change in species and their abundance; it has been reported that barramundi are being caught in the Bay.
However, the Society was pleased to learn recently that Moreton Bay’s environmental health has shown an improved trend since rigorous monitoring commenced some 14 years ago. While the same trend has not been enjoyed by the fresh waterways that feed it, Moreton Bay’s improvement in health is being attributed in part to the reduction in point source pollution resulting from the upgrade of various treatment plants in the area.
There is broad support from thoughtful fishers for the current zonings associated with the marine park management plan. Even the Newman Government with their apparent discern for the environment showed sensitivity in walking away from proposed changes to green zones near Scotts Point.
Moreton Bay is still ranked among the top dugong habitats in Australia. And its combination of muddy habitats to the west, scattered and changing sandbanks in the Bay and extensive intertidal areas provides a range of habitats for the birdlife for which the Moreton Bay is recognised worldwide.
Yet, more must be done to protect and conserve this significant coastal environment. The upward trend in its environmental health must be ongoing if future generations are to enjoy the pleasures of the Bay, and Wildlife Queensland is taking every opportunity to advocate and instigate this increased activity.
We call upon our government to ensure the implementation of a sustainable fishing plan so that recreational and professional fishing alike may continue without downgrading the conservation status of the local species.
The Society’s Seagrass Watch and Mangrove Watch initiatives in Moreton Bay continue to collect and compile data sourced through citizen science to contribute to the management of its valuable shorelines and species.
Our campaign strongly advocating for the government to take action on tyres, drink containers and other plastic waste, particularly single-use plastic bags, remains a high priority. Such action will have immensely positive outcomes for the Bay’s turtles and birdlife especially.
Moreton Bay is far too significant and valuable a resource to be made a dumping ground for waste. Its wildlife is too precious to be lost by future generations. Get involved today to help Wildlife Queensland conserve Moreton Bay.