Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Program

The Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Program (ERMP), a compliance requirement under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) approval for the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal project, is designed to provide high level information on the health of Port Curtis and Port Alma ecosystems and observe and provide advice on any potential impacts caused by the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project. 

The information collated is used to monitor, manage and improve the marine environment and to offset any impacts on listed threatened and migratory species and the values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

ERMP Advisory Panel 

 

The ERMP is overseen by an Advisory Panel made up of independent marine experts and scientists and reports to the Australian Government with GPC acting as the facilitator.

  • Dr. Chris Crossland — ERMP Advisory Panel Chair

  • Dr. Norm Duke — Tropical Marine Ecology, Tidal wetlands and Mangroves

  • Dr. Richard Fuller — Migratory Shore Birds

  • Prof. Peter Harrison — Inshore dolphins, reef systems and coastal wetlands

  • Dr. Col Limpus — Marine Reptiles

  • Prof. Helene Marsh — Dugongs. 

ERMP survey area

ERMP-Survey-Area.jpg

ERMP projects​

The following initiatives were funded under the ERMP from 2011 to 2022

  • Review of coastal dolphins in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma regions (Desktop Study)

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to dolphins in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Status of the dugong population in the Gladstone area: gap analysis (Desktop Study)

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to coastal sea turtles in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Monitoring of coastal sea turtles: gap analysis (Desktop Study)

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to coastal sea turtles in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma for

  • Loggerhead turtles, Caretta caretta,

  • Green turtles, Chelonia mydas,

  • Hawksbill turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata,

  • Olive Ridley turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea,

  • Flatback turtles, Natator depressus,

  • Leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coreacea,

 

  • Migratory shorebird monitoring review: gap analysis (Desktop Study)

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to migratory shorebirds in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Mangrove and saltmarsh monitoring: Literature review

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to mangroves and saltmarshes in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Research, monitoring and management of seagrass ecosystems adjacent to port developments in Central Queensland: literature review and gap analysis

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to seagrass in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Central Queensland corals and associated benthos: monitoring review and gap analysis

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to corals and associated benthos in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Review of water quality studies: gap analysis

Review and gap analysis of existing data and projects pertaining to water quality studies in Central Queensland, particularly Port Curtis and Port Alma.

 

  • Report for marine megafauna and acoustic monitoring, Summer survey June 2011, Autumn survey August 2011

Collect baseline information on marine megafauna in Port Curtis and Port Alma and record background ambient noise measurements to develop an understanding of potential noise impacts on marine megafauna species.

 

 

  • Assessing the impact of dredging operations on megafauna in the Port of Gladstone

Study to identify changes to the population and behaviour of key mega-fauna species in the Port of Gladstone during capital dredging operations.

 

  • Increase understanding of the status of Australian snubfin and Australian humpback dolphins within Port Curtis and Port Alma

Photo-identification repeated surveys including population genetics to obtain information on the population and diets of these species.

 

  • A desktop study to advise on the research to estimate the health impacts of organochlorines and heavy metals in humpback dolphins in Port Curtis

 

Understand how toxicological analysis could be conducted to improve the interpretation of effects of the contaminants (organochlorines and heavy metals) on the health status of the Australian humpback and Australian snubfin dolphins in Port Curtis, Port Alma and Rodds Bay survey areas.

 

  • Assessment of Toxicological Status of Humpback and Snubfin dolphins in the Port Curtis and Port Alma

Dolphin-specific cell-based toxicity bioassays to assess the effects of Persistent Organic Pollutants and heavy metals in humpback and snubfin dolphins.

 

  • Monitoring of Australian humpback dolphins at Agnes Water to investigate distribution and movement patterns adjacent to the Gladstone Ports Corporation ERMP study area

The project aims to provide baseline information on the movements, habitat, abundance and distribution of Australian humpback dolphins at Agnes Waters, a site only 20 km from the Port of Gladstone and only 10 km from the boundary of the ERMP survey region.

 

  • Identify potentially suitable habitats for dugongs in the Port Curtis and Port Alma region and determine any temporal changes in their utilisation of these habitats

GPS/Acoustic tagging of dugong on opportunistic basis in association with tagging of green turtles and Monitoring of dugong feeding trails in association with low tide helicopter surveys of seagrass

 

  • Study on the cause and health condition of beached dugong

Investigation into the health condition and possible cause of death of a beached dugong, sighted on 19 September 2019

 

  • Increase understanding of green turtle habitat usage in the Port Curtis and Port Alma region: using satellite telemetry

Deploy satellite tags on green turtles and examine the movement, behaviour and habitat use in the Port Curtis and Port Alma regions to increase the understanding of green turtle use of marine habitats in the ERMP region.

 

  • Determine the composition by size, sex, growth rates,  survivorship, recruitment, and general health of the green turtle population in Port Curtis

Undertake an annual mark-recapture study spanning a minimum of four years at multiple sites within Port Curtis.

 

  • Increase understanding of flatback turtle habitat usage in the Port Curtis and Port Alma region: using satellite telemetry

Deploy satellite tags on flatback turtles and examine the movement, behaviour and habitat use in the Port Curtis and Port Alma regions to increase the understanding of flatback turtle use of marine habitats in the ERMP region.

 

 

  • Monitor the impacts of coastal lighting on marine turtle populations in the Port Curtis and Port Alma regions

Monitoring to determine light levels including characterisation of specific light sources, visual image of low level light pollution (including glow) as associated with coastal development along the Gladstone-Yeppoon coast.

 

  • Marine turtle hatchling orientation monitoring program

Monitor the impact of artificial light on the orientation of hatchlings in selected nesting beaches within the ERMP region.

 

  • Migratory shorebird monitoring: Shorebird surveys

Identify changes in the abundances and distribution of shorebirds over 10 years by undertaking the conditioned surveys over that time.

 

  • Migratory shorebird monitoring: Understanding ecological impact

Determine the capacity of the study area to support migratory shorebirds and determine the size of the potentially impacted population.

 

  • Migratory Shorebird Monitoring: Correlates of Changing Shorebird Numbers

Design and conduct an analysis to determine how changing environmental conditions are related to the changing abundances and distributions of migratory shorebirds within the study area over the data collection period (2011 to 2020)

 

  • Assessing the impact of Reclamation Activities on Migratory Shorebirds at the Western Basin Reclamation Area

Assess the impact of bund filling activities on the number of shorebirds in the Western Basin Reclamation Area (WBRA).

 

  • Port Curtis/Western Basin seagrass monitoring - seed bank density and viability studies

Monitor changes in the density of Z. muelleri seed banks during the pre-dredging, dredging and post-dredging phases of the WBDDP.

 

 

  • Monitoring the survival and recovery of shorelines, specifically tidal wetlands (mangroves/saltmarsh/saltpans)

The objective of his project to be met through: High resolution maps of tidal wetlands, Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) mapping of tidal wetland, Shoreline condition monitoring using oblique aerial image data acquisition and Shoreline condition monitoring using boat based video image data acquisition and community volunteers

 

  • ERMP Synthesis Report

A report synthesising findings and outcomes of the ERMP that can be used to identify any potential impacts and inform adaptive management responses to these.

 

  • Contingency funds

Provide funding to relevant projects that have not been foreseen as part of the ERMP but will assist in further meeting the conditions of the ERMP in gaining a better understanding of the ecology of the Port Curtis and Port Alma ecosystems.

 

 

 

Visit our Environmental Reports to find any associated reports with the above initiatives.

More information 

 

​For information about our Port Curtis and Port Alma Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Program (ERMP) please email or phone our Environment Team on 07 4976 1333. ​