State and trends in indicators of marine ecosystem health

This assessment summary has changed since 2011

  • This assessment summary combines ecological processes, physical & chemical processes and pests, introduced species. diseases and algal blooms
Component
Summary
Grade
Very poor Poor Good Very good
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

Water turbidity, transparency and colour

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title was revised to maintain distinction between coastal and marine environments for the purposes of the report.
  • 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.

Relatively limited areas of naturally high turbidity are found in open-water regions

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

Substantial changes to inshore water conditions and processes in the south-east

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

Connectivity based on physical processes

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Connectivity within the marine environment is predominantly driven by physical processes which influence spatial/physical disjunctions, biological, migration , flyways, recruitment, settlement, genome structures, genetic adaptation. The assessments were merged and the title revised to reflect the primary driver of connectivity in the marine environment and focus the assessment on an area where the most information is available.

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

Connectivity between regions is influenced by physical processes and is highly dynamic. Changes in physical processes associated with climate change are assumed to be impacting connectivity, with varying effects on marine populations.

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Connectivity—biological, migration, flyways

South-east in poor condition and continues to decline

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

Connectivity—genome structures, genetic adaptation

Knowledge base very limited and condition hard to assess

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

Connectivity—recruitment, settlement

Variable across the regions, improving in some and declining in others

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

Connectivity—spatial/physical disjunctions

South-east has been significantly affected

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

Trophic structures and relationships

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • 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.
 

Current state is highly variable. Locations highly impacted by climate or cumulative pressures are poor, whereas other locations are stable and in good condition.

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

South-west and north-west are in poor condition, substantially affected by historical and ongoing fishing

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

Marine microbial communities and processes

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title was revised to support provision a comprehensive assessment 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.
 

Methods for the assessment of communities have only recently become available and the development of baselines has only just started, so an assessment of status and trends is not possible.

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Knowledge base very limited and condition hard to assess

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

Trends are regionally variable and depend on the magnitude and timing of nutrient supply

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

Grade and trends based on inshore and offshore areas in all marine regions

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Benthic Productivity

This component was included in a different summary

Unable to be assessed at a regional or national scale because of a lack of data

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Good to very good in all regions

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

Herbivory processes

This component was included in a different summary

Unable to be assessed at a regional or national scale because of a lack of data

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Declines observed in the east

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

Viral diseases, parasitic infestations, mass die-offs

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title has been re-worded to support provision a comprehensive assessment for the marine environment.
  • 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.
 

No major disease outbreaks outside of coastal areas have occurred. National conditions remain stable.

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

A major disease outbreak has occurred, and condition in the south-east region is poor

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

Assessment based on a limited number of sites in each marine region. Trends in jellyfish blooms likely increasing.

Year(s): 
2016
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Blooms of algae and other species occur regularly, and condition in the south-east region is poor

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

Crown-of-thorns starfish

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title has been reworded to reflect scientific use. 
  • 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.

Outbreaks have been highly cyclical in the past 50 years, but long-term trends are unclear. Outbreak populations are higher in the north-east than in the north-west.

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

Occurs regularly across the east region, and condition there is poor

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

Significant changes in the distribution and impacts of NIMPIS-listed pests have not been reported

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

Condition in the south-east region is poor and declining

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

The number of introduced pests has increased over time, but information about their abundance (and any changes in this) is lacking and associated impacts are highly uncertain

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

Number of introduced species is high, possibly increasing, but their impacts and trends are unknown

Year(s): 
2011
4
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed
Evans K, Bax NJ, Smith DC (2016). Marine environment: State and trends in indicators of marine ecosystem health . 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-indicators-marine-ecosystem-health, DOI 10.4226/94/58b657ea7c296