GOOD SIGNS: View looking south from Auckland Creek all the way through to Colosseum Inlet in the distance.
GOOD SIGNS: View looking south from Auckland Creek all the way through to Colosseum Inlet in the distance. Contributed

Auckland Creek results a surprise in harbour health report

THE recently released 2018 Gladstone Harbour report card revealed little has changed in the 13 assessed zones but there were some areas that had shown positive signs.

The overall report card score was the same as 2017 but there was concern regarding health of coral, seagrass and mud crabs.

Environmental health overall received a C, social and economic health received Bs and cultural health received a C.

Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership chair of the Independent Science Panel and CQUniversity professor John Rolfe said one of the surprise packets of the 2018 report card was the Auckland Inlet zone, which scored an A for fish and crabs, B for water and sediment and B for habitats.

It had scored a C for fish and crabs in the past two report cards.

 

Environmental grades of harbour zones - 2018 Healthy Harbour Report Card. Top third rates Water and Sediment, right third rates Habitats, left third rates Fish and Crabs.
Environmental grades of harbour zones - 2018 Healthy Harbour Report Card. Top third rates Water and Sediment, right third rates Habitats, left third rates Fish and Crabs. GHHP

"(It's) one of the things we didn't expect when we started this," Mr Rolfe said.

"We thought the closer to the middle (of Gladstone Harbour) we are the poorer everything will be and when we go up to The Narrows or down to Rodds Bay and Colosseum Inlet it will be better. It's actually mixed all over.

"Mangroves can be really good in the middle of the harbour, fish recruitment can be good in the middle of the harbour and poorer in some of what we think of are the more pristine areas.

"This is evidence of how complicated the environment is here."

Mr Rolfe said fish recruitment showed positive signs.

"The report card has shown we've done best in fish recruitment - the number of juvenile fish that can be caught in the harbour," he said.

"From when we started that three years ago we've had a huge improvement in fish recruitment in smaller fish. Most of the other areas have been fairly stable.

"Coral scored poorly this year but they are still a lot better than they were four years ago. It shows there's been some improvement but it just hasn't kept going."

Read more about the 2018 Healthy Harbour report card here.