Spatial Thinking: Mitigation of bushfire impacts on our marine environment | Oceanwatch Australia

Spatial Thinking: Mitigation of bushfire impacts on our marine environment

OceanWatch has been working in the bushfire space since mid-2020, compiling recommendations for protecting fish habitat post-bushfires, and building mapping tools to plan appropriate responsive actions.

A natural sequence of events occurs following bushfires, seeing ash high in nutrients entering streams and oceans with rainfall. This and other processes can lead to outcomes very unfavourable for our aquatic life often resulting in migration to better water if possible, extreme animal stress or fish kills. Expanding human development activities, and climate change reduce the resilience of aquatic habitats, therefore the impacts of a bushfire can be even more severe than they naturally would be, not only at the time of the fire but in the days, weeks and months post fire.
Through our bushfire recovery initiatives OceanWatch has taken an in-depth look at the impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires on marine and freshwater environments.
OceanWatch has compiled a series of recommendations for protecting fish habitat post-bushfires in a Fish Habitat Protection Protocol. As part of this project, OceanWatch also set up six mapping tools tailored to 6 regions of Australia that experienced severe fires and downstream coastal impacts. Using this information, communities can learn, discuss, and plan appropriate responsive actions focused on improving the outcome for fish habitats.
These maps are a collection of publicly available spatial data layers relevant to the 2019-2020 bushfires and their impacts to aquatic environments in each of the six focus regions of the ‘Spatial Thinking’ project. These layers will help put in context any impact observed downstream from fire grounds, collected through the OceanWatch Australia bushfire impacts survey. These spatial tools are best used in conjunction with consultation of the Fish Habitat Protection Protocol.


The mapping tools are available upon request. Please send an e-mail to to gain access.
This project has been supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat.
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