There is little monitoring of lagoon floor condition or recovery.
There is limited quantitative information regarding the recovery of lagoon floor habitats after disturbances. There is little or no monitoring of seabed condition except as required through permit approval conditions associated with development activities (for example ports and marinas).
The black teatfish, a sea cucumber, fishery was closed to fishing in the Region following concerns for the long-term viability of the harvested stock.88 At the time of closure in 1999, populations of the species were reduced by at least 75 per cent, with residual populations of approximately five individuals per hectare in harvested areas.89 Since that report, there is little new information on black teatfish populations in the Region. Management Management arrangements for the black teatfish are limited to environmental regulation activities. There is a fishery closure for the species and Marine Parks zoning protects a minimum of 20 per cent of each reef bioregion from extractive activities, including those containing suitable habitat for the species. Evidence for recovery As reported in the Outlook Report 2009, there was no evidence of recovery for the two years after the closure of the black teatfish fishery in 1999.89,90 The lack of recovery was attributed to their life history characteristics, such as slow growth, limited migration and low recruitment.89 It is also likely to be due to the fact that they need to be close to each other to achieve fertilisation after broadcast spawning, hence needing a critical population density for reproductive success.90,91 The populations have not been resurveyed since 2002 and there is no estimate of current population densities. Recent modelling predicts a slow recovery for this species, and estimates the spawning biomass could potentially double by 2030.88 Recent fisheries management and monitoring of the black teatfish fishery in the Torres Strait may provide some indication of trends in the Region as the shallow-water black teatfish found in the Region behave similarly and may respond in a similar way. In the Torres Strait, the black teatfish fishery was closed in 2003, with no signs of recovery in surveys two years later.92 However, when these surveys were followed up in 2010, the densities of black teatfish had increased significantly and were greater than those observed in 1995, well before the fishery closure.93 Also the average size of the adults was larger than any previous survey carried out in the Torres Strait and the data indicates that these populations have recovered to near natural (unfished) densities over the seven years of the fishery closure, indicating a recovery period of between five and seven years for this fishery.93
Recovery is likely to be slow for black teatfish.
8.3.4 Coral trout
Coral trout is the collective name for several species of predatory fish in the genus Plectropomus. They occur in coral reef and shoal habitats and feed on other fishes and invertebrates. The life history characteristics of each coral trout species differ, for example the timing and location of spawning, and this may influence their individual resilience.
Coral trout are a target for both commercial and recreational fishing
© Chris Jones