The Marine chapter of the 2016 State of the Environment (SoE) report incorporates multiple expert templates developed from
streams of marine data. This metadata record describes the Expert Assessment "The state and trends of quality of habitats
and communities – seabed, slope (250 m - 700 m)". The full Expert Assessment, including figures and tables (where provided),
is attached to this record. Where available, the Data Stream(s) used to generate this Expert Assessment are accessible through
the "On-line Resources" section of this record.
DESCRIPTION OF HABITAT/COMMUNITY FOR EXPERT ASSESSMENT
This specified depth range (250 m to 700 m) defines the upper continental slope. This habitat is mostly an extremely narrow
and typically steep ribbon of seabed beyond the shelf-break, but wider in places (GBR/Coral Sea and North-west Regions).
Where it is narrowest and steepest in the Temperate East and South-east Regions, it is typified by sediment draped slopes
interspersed with deep reefs, canyons and pinnacles (small seamounts); the latter two habitats are assessed separately.
Considering its planar area, this habitat supports disproportionately highly productive fisheries and is therefore subject
to high levels of pressure, particularly in the South-east and parts of the Temperate East, but less so in other regions.
Nearly 20% of the 200-700 m depth zone has been mapped with multibeam sonar (MBS) resulting in detailed bathymetry and acoustic
backscatter maps of the seabed that enable the identification of deep reefs (Kloser & Keith 2013). The largest proportional
coverage is in the southern regions, 75% in the South-east Region, and 36% in the South-west; coverage of the northern regions
is <10%. Deep reefs are particularly abundant and most expansive in area off Australia’s eastern continental margin and
in the north-west region (Kloser et al. in press).
The upper slope harbours a highly diverse benthic fauna (Schlacher et al. 2007, Williams et al. 2010, McEnnulty et al.
2011, Dunstan et al. 2012, McCallum et al. 2013). Off Australia’s west-coast (South-west Region), the upper slope is predominantly
sediment-draped with soft coral and sponge dominated communities on the relatively few, small deep reefs (Althaus et al.
2012). In the South-east Region bryozoan communities (assessed separately) dominate the shallower, softer part of the slope
(Williams et al. 2009) whereas deep reefs harbour sponge gardens, corals and crinoids. The narrow ribbon of upper slope
is the core habitat to many demersal fish species including many commercially targeted species, as well as threatened or
management dependent species such as many deepwater sharks including gulper sharks (Centrophorus spp.) (Williams et al.
2012). There is little specific knowledge of upper slope habitats and biota in other regions.
DATA STREAM(S) USED IN EXPERT ASSESSMENT
This assessment is based on data derived from Marine National Facility Surveys described in MarLIN (http://www.marine.csiro.au/marlin/search.html)
and accessible through the CSIRO Data trawler (http://www.cmar.csiro.au/data/trawler/) and the Atlas of Living Australia
(ALA - http://www.ala.org.au/). Many of these data have contributed to data sets compiled under the CERF and NERP Marine Biodiveristy Hubs. Links to
specific CSIRO data sets are provided in the "On-line resources" section of this record, ALA datasets not specified.
• Voyage of Discovery north-west (SS05/2007)
• Voyage of Discovery south-west (SS07/2005 & SS10/2005)
• Habitat Mapping (SS01/2000, SS04/2004)
• Habitat and population assessment of giant crabs (2003 - 2005)
• Tasmanian seamounts surveys (SS02/2006 & SS02/2007)
2016 SOE ASSESSMENT SUMMARY [see attached Expert Assessment for full details]
• 2016 •
Assessment grade: Good-Poor
Assessment trend: Improving
Confidence grade: Limited evidence or limited consensus
Confidence trend: Limited evidence or limited consensus
Comparability: Grade and trend are somewhat comparable to the 2011 assessment
• 2011 •
Assessment grade: Very good
Assessment trend: Stable
CHANGES SINCE 2011 SOE ASSESSMENT
New information on national trawl footprints and a recent assessment of South-east region habitats, which suggests that
the South-east region may not have been as widely or as substantially impacted as previously considered and is now expected
to be improving albeit slowly.
Daley, R. K., A. Williams, M. A. Green, B. A. Barker, and P. Brodie. 2014. Can marine reserves conserve vulnerable sharks
in the deep sea? A case study of Centrophorus zeehaani (Centrophoridae), examined with acoustic telemetry. Deep Sea Research
Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.
Hobday, A. J., A. D. M. Smith, I. C. Stobutzki, C. Bulman, R. Daley, J. M. Dambacher, R. A. Deng, J. Dowdney, M. Fuller,
D. Furlani, S. P. Griffiths, D. DJohnson, R. Kenyon, I. A. Knuckey, S. D. Ling, R. Pitcher, K. J. Sainsbury, M. Sporcic,
T. Smith, C. Turnbull, T. I. Walker, S. E. Wayte, H. Webb, A. Williams, B. S. Wise, and S. Zhou. 2011. Ecological risk assessment
for the effects of fishing. Fisheries Research 108:372-384.
Kendrick, G. A., F. Althaus, M. Bishop, B. Brooke, I. Butler, J. Caley, R. Coleman, S. D. Connell, K. Edyvane, R. Ferrari,
D. Ierodiaconou, K. Miller, S. Nichol, J. Oliver, A. Post, R. Przeslawski, T. A. Schlacher, E. Sinclair, J. Stark, P. Steinberg,
J. Tanner, A. Verges, T. Wernberg, S. Whalan, and A. Williams. 2014. National Marine Science Plan, Biodiversity Conservation
and Ecosystem Health - White Paper: Benthic Ecosystems. FRDC, web publication.
Poore, G. C. B., L. Avery, M. łażewicz-Paszkowycz, J. Browne, N. L. Bruce, S. Gerken, C. Glasby, E. Greaves, A. W. McCallum,
D. Staples, A. Syme, J. Taylor, G. Walker-Smith, M. Warne, C. Watson, A. Williams, R. S. Wilson, and S. Woolley. 2014.
Invertebrate diversity of the unexplored marine western margin of Australia: taxonomy and implications for global biodiversity.
Rogers, P., T. Ward, P. van Ruth, A. Williams, B. Bruce, D. Currie, C. Davies, K. Evans, S. Goldsworthy, D. Griffin, N.
Hardman-Mountford, R. Kloser, J. Middleton, A. Richardson, A. Ross, and J. Young. 2013. Physical processes, biodiversity
and ecology of the Great Australian Bight region: a literature review. CSIRO, Hobart Tas.
Williams, A., J. Dowdney, A. D. M. Smith, A. J. Hobday, and M. Fuller. 2011. Evaluating impacts of fishing on benthic habitats:
A risk assessment framework applied to Australian fisheries. Fisheries Research 112:154-167.
QUALITY OF DATA USED IN THE ASSESSMENT
CUSTODIAN AND LOCATION OF DATA
CSIRO, data are accessible through the CSIRO Data trawler (http://www.cmar.csiro.au/data/trawler/) and the Atlas of Living
Australia (ALA - http://www.ala.org.au/) (see On-line resource links for specific CSIRO datasets, ALA datasets not specified)
METHOD USED TO DETERMINE STATE OR RECENT TREND
Expert assessment based on peer review literature and reports listed in the assessment.
When citing this Expert Assessment in a list of references use the following format:
citation author name/s (year metadata published), metadata title. Citation author organisation/s. File identifier and Data
accessed at (add http link).