Understanding the socio-cultural value of reefs on the east coast of Tasmania

Supervisory Team:

Myriam Lacharite

John Keane

Brief project description:

The longspined sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii has in recent decades extended south beyond its native range along the coast of New South Wales to Tasmania, due to the southward extension of the East Australian Current. There, it has been grazing aggressively on local macroalgal communities, creating in some areas extensive ‘urchin barrens’. Current management aims to stop the growth of existing barrens, prevent the establishment of new barrens and promote recovery, but these objectives are not distinct, spatially undefined, and do not account for other users – both commercial and recreational – and ecological values.

Socio-cultural values include broad cultural and social importance of a place, which can be expressed through visual aesthetics, intrinsic value of place, recreational fisheries and/or general recreational use, such as diving, among others. This project aims to better understand the socio-cultural value of reef systems on the east coast of Tasmania, by conducting participatory mapping through targeted community surveys. The objective of the project is to better understand the breadth of uses and cultural importance of key areas, and describe how this could be embedded with other information to effectively manage the non-endemic urchin. This information is meant to be fed into a broader pilot spatial planning framework for the management of sea urchins in key areas where complementary ecological and economic value has been described.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

Marine management of non-endemic species; governance and planning; participatory mapping; knowledge on socio-ecological systems.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
May 16, 2023