State and trends of habitats and communities

The title of this assessment summary has changed from 2011.

Component
Summary
Grade
Very poor Poor Good Very good
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

Seabed inner shelf (0–25 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Significant local-to-regional scale impacts in the South-east and Temperate East marine regions. Empirical studies on vulnerable assemblages are required to quantify the extent and implications of perceived impact.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

South-east and east regions in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Seabed outer shelf (25–250 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.
 

The state is likely poor to good in the South-east and Temperate East marine regions (and potentially poorest for the Temperate East Marine Region) and good elsewhere. Quantitative data for composition and distribution of soft-sediment fauna are lacking

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

South-east and south-west regions in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Seabed, slope (250–700 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.
 

Seabed habitats are spatially restricted, with varying impacts as a result of pressures, resulting in varying state and trends. State is poor to very poor but improving in the South-east/Temperate East marine regions, and good and stable elsewhere.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

South-east region in very poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Seabed abyss (> 700 m)


This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.
 

Habitats vary in state across depths. Those at 700–1500 m are spatially restricted; those in the South-east Marine region are poor because of fishing impacts.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

South-east region in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Abyss depths in very good condition in all regions

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Water column, inner shelf (0–25 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Information available is localised and limited to the tropics, with insufficient data to accurately assess regional or national trends.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

East region in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Water column, outer shelf (25–250 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

The lack of a time series of in situ observations from large parts of Australia’s marine environment limits the assessment to satellite detection of status for only a few parameters. Considerable regional variability exists, and evidence of responses to climate variability dominates across longer term climate change impacts.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

East region in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
4
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

All regions in good or very good condition

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Water column, slope (250–700 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Trends are weak, spatially variable and unclear throughout most regions. Those in the South-east Marine Region are largely positive (increasingCarrie Dehaan).

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

All regions in good or very good condition

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

State and trends of biological components of the water column are unknown, but assumed to be good

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Canyons

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The shelf break is that point on the continental margin that demarcates the end of the contintinental shelf and beginning of the slope. Assessment of any habitat that may be regarded as shelf break is included in the assessment of Seabed, shelf (25-250m) and Seabed, slope (250-700m).
  • This component is now included in a different summary

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Current state varies from highly impacted as a result of the effects of bottom fishing to largely pristine and functionally intact . Those in the South-east Marine Region are poor.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

South-east region in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Seamounts

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The ecological definition of a seamount includes hills and pinnacles that may only rise 200-500 m from the surrounding seafloor, but have clearly different habitats and different pressures impacting them from the surrounding seafloor. The depth categorisation has been removed to support provision a comprehensive assessment of seamounts for the marine environment.
  • This component was included in a different summary

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Habitats range from very good to very poor, with trends stable to improving. Recovery from historical fishing pressure is expected to be extremely slow and impeded by ocean acidification.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

East region in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Offshore banks, shoals, islands

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • It was included in a different assessment summary

Comprehensive spatial coverage, but level of assessment for state coarse; assessment of trend at the national scale still lacks a high level of confidence, with information only available for Lord Howe Island

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Somewhat adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Only assessed in north-west and east regions

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Coral reefs (< 25 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Severe storms, bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish have affected north-eastern reefs, whereas many regions in the north-west have been affected by bleaching.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

North-west and north regions in very good condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Deepwater corals and sponges (25 - 250 m)

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report. Deepwater corals and sponges are divided into those 25-250m and >250m to reflect a recognised change point in habitat.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

The South-east and Temperate East marine regions are below trend (potentially poorest in the Temperate East). Empirical studies on vulnerable assemblages are required to quantify implied trawl impacts.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

North and east regions in very good condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Deepwater corals and sponges (> 250 m)


This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Assessments dividing habitats by a depth component have been revised and standardised to reflect recognised categorisation of the marine environment. Depth categories have additionally been standardised across all assessments to maintain consistency of categorisation within the report. Deepwater corals and sponges are divided into those 25-250m and >250m to reflect a recognised change point in habitat.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Slow-growing fauna exposed to direct fishing impacts results in highly variable condition across depth ranges and between regions. Grades range from very poor in upper slope areas in the South-east marine region to very good in abyssal habitats.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

North and east regions in very good condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Fringing reefs - temperate rocky reefs


This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Minimisation of repetition of content across assessments - coral reefs are included in Coral reefs (<25m) and Deepwater corals and sponges (25-250m) assessments
  • It was included in a different assessment summary

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Trend data are lacking for most areas. The Temperate East and South-east marine regions are in the poorest state, with the South-west demonstrating recent deterioration.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

East region in very poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Bryozoan reefs

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • It was included in a different assessment summary

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.
 

Condition varies, ranging from poor in the South-east marine region and potentially very poor in the Temperate East marine region. Condition in other regions is assumed to be good, although there are few data. Empirical studies on vulnerable assemblages are required to quantify implied trawl impacts.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Somewhat adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Only assessed in the south-east region

Year(s): 
2011
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Algal Beds

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • It was included in a different assessment summary

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Nationally in good condition, but generally in poorer condition in the Temperate East and South-east marine regions because of warming and the cascading effects of fishing.

Year(s): 
2016
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

East and south-east regions in poor condition

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed
Evans K, Bax NJ, Smith DC (2016). Marine environment: State and trends of habitats and communities . In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary/marine-environment/state-and-trends-habitats-and-communities, DOI 10.4226/94/58b657ea7c296