Impacts of Spearfishing on the Great Barrier Reef

Direct observations of spearfishers can provide a valuable source of information on reef health, which can be used to inform best-management practices. Dr. Wolfe and Professor Mumby from the University of Queensland, surveyed 141 spearfishers along the coastline of Queensland from Cooktown to Bundaberg. Their results aligned with previous findings that coral trout (Plectropomus spp.) was the most commonly-caught fish by spearfishers, who are highly selective compared to line fishers. They also found that that the takings of tuskfishes was increasing, while the takings of parrotfishes were decreasing. This trend may be inspired by an education campaign released by GBRMPA aiming to reduce the catch of herbivores (e.g. parrotfishes) on the GBR to facilitate consumption of algae on the reef. The results of which have now  been published online as part of a Tropical Water Quality Hub project on recommendations to maintain the functioning of the Great Barrier Reef.