Poster Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

A cause for hope: Largely intact coral reef communities with high reef fish biomass in a remote Indonesian island group (#461)

Gino Limmon 1 , Halwi Masdar 2 , Dominic Muenzel 3 , Tanika C Shalders 4 , Cilun Djakiman 1 , Ray Purnama 1 , Jamaludin Jompa 2 , Maria Beger 3 , Maarten De Brauwer 3 5
  1. Maritime and Marine Science Center of Excellence, Pattimura University, Ambon, Indonesia
  2. Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia
  3. School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  4. National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour
  5. Oceans & Atmosphere, CSIRO, Hobart

The state of many Indonesian reefs is dire, yet glimpses of hope might remain in some of Indonesia’s more remote regions. The islands and reefs in the centre of the Banda Sea remain largely unstudied, but their distance from large population centres could provide refuge from fishing pressure. We conducted visual surveys of the biodiversity and abundance of coral reef faunal communities at the uninhabited Lucipara and Penyu islands in the Banda Sea. Our results show that these remote reefs support medium to high coral cover and healthy fish assemblages, including abundant large predatory species. Trophic structure of fish communities showed a bimodal, almost concave distribution with the highest biomass concentrated in high and low trophic levels. All sites exceeded the minimum conservation target of 1,150 kg/ha proposed by McClanahan et al. (2015) by a factor of about 2 to 10. Remoteness seems to be largely to thank for this, but might also hamper efficient policing against destructive fishing practices. Our study suggests the coral reefs of the Lucipara and Penyu islands are among the healthiest in Indonesia and should be protected in a time of global declines in coral reef health.