A world-first Fish Habitat Protection Protocol Against Bushfires to safeguard the marine environment from future mega bushfire impacts.
The devastating 2019-20 bushfires impacted everything, including the marine environment, as several worrying observations were made by residents and fishermen up and down the East Coast. However, the nature, scale and distribution of these marine impacts observed was unknown at the time.
Funded by the Australian Government’s investment in bushfire recovery for wildlife and their habitats, the OceanWatch Australia team quickly set about collecting these observations from bushfire survivors who had seen aquatic impacts. The team recorded immediate and lingering impacts from the ash and debris building on beaches and in water, killing fish, and changing sea life behaviour. Also part of this project, the team built online mapping tools to aid discussions around recovery. The OceanWatch Fish Habitat Protection Protocol emerged, providing procedures around how Australians can prepare, fight and help vital aquatic environments recover.
Resources are now online to help readers think about how the processes, recommendations and mapping information could be used in future-proofing the health of our aquatic environments. Our aim is for the OceanWatch Protocol to help everyone who fights bushfires to also fight for aquatic health.
To access these resources visit: www.oceanwatch.org.au/bushfire-recovery