Centre for Marine Futures
School of Biological Sciences
& UWA Oceans Institute
University of Western Australia M092
35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009
Project title: Understanding the impacts of shipping traffic in marine protected areas
Start Date: February 25, 2019
My project is examining the impacts of vessel traffic noise on large pelagics in marine protected areas along the west coast of Australia.
I studied in Canada, where I received my Bachelor of Science with a combined major in Biology and Earth & Ocean Science from the University of Victoria, British Columbia. After completing my degree, I worked as a Research Assistant for the Sea Around Us, a research initiative at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, updating all maritime countries catch reconstructions in order to gain a better understanding of global fisheries. In 2017 I decided to travel to Australia. Fortunately for me the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean node had just been created so I continued to work with them in Perth where I was introduced to Prof. Meeuwig and the Marine Futures Lab.
I’ve always been fascinated by the role that marine protected areas play in the conservation of our oceans. Many anthropogenic activities affect marine protected areas but my research aims to understand the impacts of vessel traffic on large pelagics in marine protected areas along the west coast of Australia.
- HD by Research Preliminary
Freire K, Belhabib D, Espedido J, Hood L, Kleisner K, Lam V, Machado M, Mendonça JT, Meeuwig JJ, Moro P, Motta F, Palomares MLD, Smith N, The LC, Zeller D, Zylich K, Pauly D. 2020. Estimating global catches of marine recreational fisheries. Frontiers in Marine Science. 10.3389/fmars.2020.00012
Sumaila UR, Zeller D, Hood L, Palomares MLD, and Pauly D. 2020. Illicit trade in marine fish catch and its effects on ecosystems and people worldwide. Science Advances. 10.1126/sciadv.aaz3801
Vianna GMS, Hehre EJ, White R, Hood L, Derrick B and Zeller D. 2020. Long-Term Fishing Catch and Effort Trends in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, With Emphasis on the Small-Scale Sectors. Frontiers in Marine Science. 10.3389/fmars.2019.00828
Léopold M, David G, Raubani J, Kaltavara J, Hood L and Zeller D. An Improved Reconstruction of Total Marine Fisheries Catches for the New Hebrides and the Republic of Vanuatu, 1950–2014. Frontiers in Marine Science 10.3389/fmars.2017.00306.
The impact of vessel traffic noise on marine fauna
Marine life uses sound actively and passively for many purposes, including communication, navigation, and understanding the environment around it. However, anthropogenic sound sources and levels in the ocean are diversifying and increasing, impacting marine life across all trophic levels. One of the main contributors to increased marine noise levels is the vast number of large-scale vessels regularly transiting the oceans for fishing, shipping commercial goods, and travel. We hypothesised that areas with higher vessel traffic experienced lower biomass, abundance and taxonomic richness of marine fauna. Automatic Identification Systems records were used to track vessel movements through time to determine the density of vessel traffic. Marine fauna was characterised based on biomass, abundance and taxonomic richness of pelagic fishes derived from mid-water stereo baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS), with the BRUVS surveys largely undertaken within marine protected areas (MPAs). Total abundances of all marine fauna and all teleosts were negatively correlated with vessel density. There were however no relationships between vessel density and either biomass or taxonomic richness. The negative relationship with abundance suggests that noise from vessels is impacting marine fauna in some aspects of their composition. Reduction in abundance has significant implications for wildlife population resilience with population declines affecting ecosystem function and the overall health of the ocean. Such impacts are also troubling when they occur within MPAs given the mandate of such areas to increase abundance of exploited species. We recommend improved policy reducing vessel traffic in marine protected areas.
Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean – Senior Researcher