« South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network
||Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve
||28 June 2007 (effective 3 September 2007)
|Types of zoning
||IUCN VI – Multiple Use Zone – 933 km2
IUCN VI – Special Purpose Zone – 18,964 km2
|Management plan status
|| Interim management arrangements
The Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve covers an area of 19,897 square kilometres to the west and south-west of King Island in Commonwealth waters surrounding north-west Tasmania. It covers a broad depth range from the shallow continental shelf of about 50 metres to the abyssal plain that is over 3,000 metres deep.
The Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve spans the continental shelf, continental slope and deeper water ecosystems of the major biological zone that extends from South Australia to the west of Tasmania. A significant feature is a series of four submarine canyons that incise the continental slope, extending from the shelf edge to the abyssal plains. Biodiversity and productivity on the outer shelf and upper slope in this reserve are influenced by the Zeehan Current and its interactions with the canyons.
The Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve includes a variety of seabed habitats including rocky limestone banks. These support rich animal communities made up by large sponges and other permanently attached or fixed invertebrates on the continental shelf. There are also extensive ‘thickets’ of low invertebrate animals – mostly lace corals and sponges – on the continental slope. These communities are exceptionally diverse and include species new to science. The rocky limestone banks provide important seabed habitats for a variety of commercial fish species including Australia’s giant crab. Concentrations of larval blue warehou and ocean perch indicate the role of the area as a nursery ground.
The Zeehan Commonwealth Marine Reserve is also a foraging area for a variety of seabirds, including the fairy prion, shy albatross, silver gull and short-tail shearwater. Four submarine canyons link the deeper part of the reserve to the continental shelf. On the shelf giant crabs, deep water corals and sponges can be found.