GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Threats to loggerhead turtles have been reduced in the Region
systems; mandatory reporting of interactions with species of conservation interest; and, from July 2014, actions to reduce marine debris impacts on marine turtles with funding from Reef Trust119. • Australian and Queensland government plans and strategies that integrate relevant information and help guide management activities, including the Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2013, and Back on Track Actions for Biodiversity.120,121,122,123,124,125 • Spatial protection through zoning plans126,127, a summer trawl closure in the Woongarra Marine Park (south of the Region) since 1991 and ‘go slow’ zones in Moreton Bay Marine Park — an important foraging area to the south of the Region. • Baiting for foxes adjacent to nesting beaches in south-east Queensland. • Research and monitoring of loggerhead turtles and their recovery including: the Sightings Network component of Eye on the Reef where marine turtle observations by community members and others are collected; Marine Wildlife Strandings program, which reports on marine turtle strandings and causes of mortality; and annual monitoring of nesting loggerhead populations along the Woongarra coast and in the Capricorn–Bunker Group in the south of the Region and of foraging populations in Moreton Bay to the south of the Region. Evidence for recovery As reported in the Outlook Report 2009, after the effective implementation of the mandatory use of turtle excluder devices on trawlers in 2001, the previous long-term decline in nesting loggerhead turtle numbers reversed to an increasing trend at all eastern Australian loggerhead turtle index beaches.128 Mon Repos on the Woongarra Coast near Bundaberg is outside the Region; however, it is where the largest nesting aggregation for this stock occurs. During the 2011–12 nesting season, 377 nesting females were recorded nesting at Mon Repos (see Figure 2.12). This provides further evidence of a continued increasing trend in nesting females.128 Despite the positive trend observed in nesting adults, significant pressures from death during incidental capture in pelagic long-line fisheries in the South Pacific outside Australian waters and ingestion of synthetic marine debris are thought to continue to affect this stock, especially the post-hatchling, juvenile and sub-adult life stages.128 If the declines in juvenile and sub-adult life stages continue, then there may be a reduction in the number of nesting loggerhead turtles in another 20 or so years when they would have joined the breeding population.
Loggerhead turtles are recovering; some threats remain.
Mandatory excluder devices have reversed a long-term decline in loggerhead turtles.
8.3.6 Urban coast dugongs
The dugong population along the urban coast (south of Cooktown) is believed to be only a small fraction of pre-European levels.129,130 Commercial harvest of the population ceased in 1969131, but the legacy of this impact continues to affect the recovery and resilience of the population. Life history traits such as longevity, slow maturation, low reproductive potential, and dependence on inshore habitats make dugongs susceptible to a range of threats that affect their recovery.132,133 Dugongs are reliant on seagrass meadows that are susceptible to unfavourable environmental conditions.134 At the Reef-wide scale, the extent of seagrass meadows was considered to be relatively stable at the time of the Outlook Report 2009. Since then some warning signs have emerged. Declines in some areas have been reported over recent years, as have significant losses of seagrass in the areas directly affected by the path of cyclone Yasi and large flood events.134 Threats that affect seagrass, such as increased sediments and nutrients from land-based run-off, dredging and disposal and resuspension of dredge material, and physical damage to the seafloor, may have flow-on effects on dugongs.