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You can help to restore giant kelp in Tasmania and southern Australia

OzFish Unlimited 3 mins read
Giant kelp in Tasmanian waters.

Helping to restore vital giant kelp forests to local coastlines is about to get easier for recreational fishers in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, with the launch of an enhanced version of the Kelp Tracker web-based platform. 

Kelp Tracker 2.0 is a collaborative project between OzFish, Australia’s only recreational fishing charity, The Nature Conservancy, the Victorian National Parks Association, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania, and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing. 

Initially launched in late 2019, Kelp Tracker is designed to make it quick and easy for recreational fishers to log the location of giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera they see around Australia’s coastline. The new and improved Kelp Tracker 2.0 builds on the success of the original platform. 

TNC Kelp Restoration Coordinator Paul Tompkins said the data collected by Kelp Tracker 2.0 will inform kelp restoration and research projects across southern Australia. 

“By recording observations of giant kelp on the KelpTracker platform, the public can provide invaluable information about where giant kelp still exists which helps us design and locate restoration projects with real impact,” Mr Tompkins said.   

OzFish Senior Project Officer for Tasmania Vere Michiels welcomed the launch of the new and improved Kelp Tracker 2.0. 

“Recreational fishers and the local community can play an important role in helping to restore giant kelp forests to Tasmanian waters and the Kelp Tracker 2.0 makes that easy. It is free and easy to use, and logging sightings of any giant kelp spotted while on a fishing trip is quick to do,” Ms Michiels said. 

“The sightings they report are verified by marine scientists and over time, as data build ups, it helps to create a map of the remaining giant kelp forests. This not only allows scientists to locate and study the giant kelp, but also to identify giant kelp strains that are potentially ‘warm tolerant’ and determine which areas might be suitable for habitat restoration.” 

Kelp forests are a key habitat for native fish, including rock lobster, abalone, striped trumpeter, and calamari, but unfortunately in many locations across Australia they are getting smaller. They are also home to large numbers of invertebrates, providing a food source for fish. 

Some of the most dramatic declines have occurred in Tasmania, with an estimated 95 per cent of giant kelp habitat having disappeared and it is now being listed as an endangered marine community. Their loss is associated with ocean warming and reduction in nutrients stemming from the increase of warm East Australian Current water in eastern Tasmania, as well as the introduction of long-spined sea urchins. 

Giant kelp is identifiable by its large wide 'leaves' with air bladders at their base and stringy central stalks. It can be picked up on sounders and generally appears as thin vertical shadows rising through the water column. 

Read more about giant kelp forests and why they are such an important marine habitat at OzFish: https://ozfish.org.au/projects/giant-kelp-restoration-project-tasmania/  

Kelp Tracker 2.0 is available at: https://bit.ly/kelptracker2 and can also be downloaded with this QR code.

If you would like to know more about the project or get involved become a member of OzFish online at www.ozfish.org.au or contact 1800 431 308. 

 


About us:

About OzFish

 

OzFish Unlimited is a national environmental conservation charity established to improve the health of our rivers, lakes and estuaries. It is a member-based organisation dedicated to make our fishing grounds healthy, vibrant and more productive. Their active work includes; habitat restoration such as resnagging, riverbank planting, clean-ups, fishways, shellfish reefs and educational and community capacity building programs.


Contact details:

Media Contacts

If you would like further information or to interview Vere Michiels or Paul Tompkins, please contact Paul Suttor, OzFish Unlimited

0421 491 229 | paulsuttor@ozfish.org.au

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