The Ormiston seagrass monitoring team have just reported back from their recent seagrass survey. Concerns were raised that bait worming has now extended into the Ormiston area near the mouth of Tingalpa Creek.
The team for OR4 first noted extensive Dugong trails at Ormiston in 2003. The matter was reported to Marine Parks and this information provided guidance to the government on a range matters. The most notable was a Marine Park permit sought to conduct an offshore explosion for a movie. At the time, the selected site was Ormiston which would have put Dugongs at risk. Had it not been for the seagrass monitoring team’s local knowledge, the explosions would have likely been initiated.
While the Dugongs were saved from the potential impacts of the movie’s stunts a new potential threat has appeared, bait worming.
Until 2009 bait worming was a small commercial industry chiefly confined to Fisherman Island. After 2009 the State Government opened up more areas for bait worming and as a consequence important seagrass meadows are now being dug up to supply recreational fish bait – bloodworms.
The harvesting of bloodworms, Polychaeta: Marphysa spp in Moreton Bay for use as recreational fishing bait occurs in the intertidal Zostera muelleri ssp. capricorni seagrass beds. Bloodworms are a burrowing animal and therefore harvesting involves the turn-over of the top 20-50cm of sediment and seagrass.
The results of bait worming are shown below.
Dugongs rely on seagrass as it’s their chief source of food. Seagrass is also the nursery ground for many commercial fish species. We hope that the supply of bait for a hobby is not more important than protecting seagrass for species like the vulnerable Dugongs and Green Turtles.