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The Tasmanian region
Crawford, C.M.; Edgar, G.J.; Cresswell, G. (2000). The Tasmanian region, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 647-660
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


Authors  Top 
  • Crawford, C.M.
  • Edgar, G.J.
  • Cresswell, G.

    The Tasmanian region includes the eastern, southern and western coastal areas of Tasmania (the Tasmanian Province) and the inshore coastal waters of the northern Tasmanian coast and Bass Strait Islands (part of the Bassian Province). The biota of the Tasmanian Province is characterised by a number of endemic species but low species diversity. By contrast, marine communities in the Bass Strait area have high species riChness but negligible endemism, largely because the north coast was connected to mainland Australia < 10,000 years ago. The major currents east and west of Tasmania, the East Australian Current and the Zeehan Current, respectively, both flow consistently southward. The strength of the East Australian current, in particular, has a major influence on the distribution of flora and fauna. During La Nina years of strong southerly current flow, species associated with warm high-salinity waters are transported well down the Tasmanian east coast, whereas highly productive pelagic fish stocks tend to associate with the subantarctic water mass and move south or into deeper water during these years. Industrial and urban development in Tasmania has largely occurred in the coastal zone, resulting in substantial changes to the natural environment along the northern and eastern coasts. By contrast, little human activity has occurred on the south and west coasts, with much of this region protected within a large National Park. Estuarine and coastal waters have been regularly used as a dumping ground for wastes, and the three largest estuaries in Tasmania are severely degraded with high levels of heavy metals and other industrial and urban wastes. However, very few baseline studies of the Tasmanian marine environment have been conducted, greatly limiting the identification of change. Although issues of coastal and marine ecosystem health have historically attracted little public concern, this attitude is changing at both community and government levels. Recent changes to legislation have resulted in a more integrated approach to management of the marine environment, with land-based activities becoming increasingly accountable for downstream effects. Local communities are also showing greater interest and involvement in the management of their estuarine and marine neighbourhoods. Nevertheless, major gaps remain in our knowledge of Tasmanian coastal and marine environments. Baseline conditions are poorly documented but such information is essential to ensure effective management and sustainable development. Detailed information is needed on how marine and estuarine ecosystems function and the processes affecting them. The effects on marine communities and habitats of human activities, including land-based and extractive industries, are also largely unknown and require investigation and monitoring.

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