Huon Commonwealth Marine Reserve

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Overview

Overview of Huon Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Area 9991 km2 (999 100 ha)
Types of zoning Habitat Protection Zone - IUCN Category IV (389 km2)
Multiple Use Zone - IUCN Category VI (9 602 km2)

Major conservation values

Deep sea stalked crinoid - CSIRO

Deep sea stalked crinoid Copyright CSIRO

  • Examples of ecosystems, habitats and communities associated with: the Tasmanian Shelf Province and the Tasmania Province and associated with the sea-floor features: canyon, knoll/abyssal hill (seamount), pinnacle, saddle, shelf and terrace
  • Features with high biodiversity and productivity: seamounts south and east of Tasmania
  • Important foraging area for: black-browed, Buller's and shy albatrosses, great-winged petrel, short-tailed shearwater, fairy prion, Australian fur seal and killer whale
  • Important migration area for: humpback whale.

General description

The Huon Commonwealth Marine Reserve covers a broad depth range from the inner continental shelf at about 70 m, to abyssal depths of more than 3000 m. The majority of the area is in deep water. The Tasman Seamounts Marine Reserve that was proclaimed in 1999 has been wholly incorporated into the Huon Commonwealth marine reserve. The reserve contains a cluster of seamounts that appear as cone-shaped submerged mountains, which provide a range of depths for a diversity of plants and animals.

The peaks of many of the reserve's seamounts are between 750 m and 1000 m below the sea surface and support endemic species, including large erect corals and sponges. Some of the flora and fauna are hundreds and possibly thousands of years old, making them some of the longest-lived animals on Earth. The reserve also provides an important connection between seamounts of the Indian Ocean and the Tasman Sea.

Seamounts are regarded as areas of increased productivity in the otherwise nutrient-poor open ocean. Their topography accelerates water currents to provide a consistent and relatively rich food source for filter feeders, and which sweeps the seamounts clear of fine sediments, exposing rocks for animals, such as corals, to attach to. Seamounts are generally considered to be important stepping stones in the transoceanic dispersal of larvae of bottom-dwelling species.

The habitat protection zone was established to protect the unique and vulnerable benthic communities of the reserve's seamounts. The zone includes seamounts rising 650-1000 m above the sea floor, which have been subject to commercial fishing. Deeper seamounts, peaking at 1150-1700 m above the sea floor, have not been fished, and are in pristine condition. Benthic communities include coral-dominated communities found at depths less than 1400 m. The hard coral Solensomilia variabilis forms a dense matrix that provides a platform for hydroids and sponges; stone corals; and black, gold and bamboo corals. Benthic communities deeper than 1400 m are urchin dominated.

The reserve is a foraging area for white shark and seabirds and a spawning or nursery area for important commercial fish, including ocean perch and blue warehou.

Management arrangements

All fourteen reserves in the South-east are managed under the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network Management Plan 2013-23. This Management Plan sets out the zoning, allowable activities and rules for use within South-east marine reserves until 2023.

Maps

 

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Map of the Huon Commonwealth Marine Reserve - Click to enlarge map

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