Fish larvae development impacted by dredging
A NEW study has found higher levels of sediment caused by dredging affect coral reef fish larvae populations.
The find has renewed calls for an outright ban on dredging and dumping near the Great Barrier Reef.
The James Cook University study found the development of fish larvae for the coral reef damselfish was hindered by turbid waters.
It analysed varying degrees of turbidity from sediment, similar to the effects created by dredging in marine waters.
The research found larvae exposed to even small amounts of suspended sediment took longer to develop into juvenile fish than those not exposed.
It also found larvae exposed to more suspended sediment took almost twice as long to develop as the "control" larvae.
It prompted a renewed call from the Australian Marine Conservation Society for an outright ban on dredging and dumping near the Great Barrier Reef.
A project at Dudgeon Point has already been put on hold and the Abbot Point port expansion will no longer dump its sediment in the marine park.
Society campaigner Felicity Wishart said risking such an important species was "short-sighted and unnecessary".
"Dredging and dumping both increase the amount of fine sediments in the reef's waters," she said.
The study also found turbid water could "significantly reduce" larval populations in some fish species, which also had effects on adult population dynamics.
- APN NEWSDESK