Cairns Dredging Report Reveals Thriving Seagrass Meadows

Dredging carried out for the Cairns Shipping Development Project has had no adverse impact on the seagrass meadows in Trinity Inlet and some areas have actually expanded during operations, a new report has found.

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In another major find, seagrass distribution across the larger port limits covers the second largest area ever recorded for Cairns, at 1,682 hectares.

The findings are reported in the newly released Seagrass Habitat Of Cairns Harbor And Trinity Inlet: Annual Monitoring Report and Cairns Shipping Development Project Monitoring Report 2019 published by James Cook University’s Center for Tropical Water.

“This is important and terrific news for the Cairns waterways and coastline,” Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said. “Seagrass meadows are a vital part of the marine ecosystem, which is why we have been partnering with JCU to monitor the health in our ports for more than 15 years.”

“During the dredging campaign JCU undertook a more intense monitoring campaign which was critical in informing us in managing the dredging works,” Mr Beer said.

Seagrasses are submerged flowering plants found in shallow marine waters that provide food and shelter for many fish species, turtles, dugongs and smaller sea creatures as well as being a nursery ground for important fisheries species such as tiger prawns.

Because seagrasses respond to changes in water quality, they are also a great indicator of overall marine environment health.

The latest report was prepared by the team at James Cook University’s Center for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), which also partners with Ports North to carry out annual seagrass monitoring at the ports of Karumba, Thursday Island and Mourilyan.