Ecological Risk Assessment

Species identified in the CITES Non-detriment Finding for the Queensland Coral Fishery were assessed in the Species Vulnerability Assessment and those that justified further consideration were assessed in the Ecological Risk Assessment.

The Ecological Risk Assessment entailed a two-day workshop in May 2013. In attendance were fishery practitioners from the north, central and southern parts of the fishery; fishery managers from Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory; the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; representatives from the Australian Government Environment department, including the CITES division, and the Australian Government Fisheries department; coral reef scientists; and representatives from environmental advocacy groups adjacent the Cairns and Keppel Coral Collection Areas plus a representative from WWF Australia.

The analysis assigned a level of consequence (from negligible to catastrophic) and the likelihood of this consequence occurring (from remote to likely) for each species assessed.

When considering the level of consequence or likelihood, participants made an assessment in context of what existing control measures and management arrangements are already in place. A ten year forecast was considered when determining consequence and likelihood levels. This time frame equates to at least one generation of growth for most coral species. The allocated risk ranking dictates the amount of justification required and also the extent of management likely to be needed to address the risk.

The process follows the following structure:


Negligible (0)

Insignificant impacts to populations, (dynamics/structure/size). Unlikely to be measurable against background variability for this population.

Minor (1)

Possibly detectable, but minimal localised impact on population size and none on dynamics.

Moderate (2)

Noticeable local impact, likely minimal
impact on regional populations. Short-term recruitment/dynamics not adversely

Severe (3)

Significant impacts on populations. Affecting recruitment levels of stocks/or their capacity to increase.

Major (4)

Long-term local depletion if continued. Likely to cause local extinctions, if continued in longer term (i.e. probably requiring listing of species in an appropriate category of the endangered species list e.g. CITES Appendix I).

Catastrophic (5)

Local extinctions are imminent/immediate


Remote (1)

Never heard of, but not impossible

Rare (2)

Happens only very rarely

Unlikely (3)

Unlikely, but has been known to occur elsewhere

Possible (4)

Is expected to occur only infrequently

Occasional (5)

Is expected to occur moderately

Likely (6)

Is expected to occur often

The overall level of risk assigned to each species is based on the group’s assessment of the perceived consequence multiplied by the perceived likelihood.

[ mobile users: click here to view the table ]

Negligible Minor Moderate Severe Major Catastrophic
0 1 2 3 4 5
Likelihood Remote 1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Rare 2 0 2 4 6 8 10
Unlikely 3 0 3 6 9 12 15
Possible 4 0 4 8 12 16 20
Occasional 5 0 5 10 15 20 25
Likely 6 0 6 12 18 24 30
 Adapted from Fletcher, W, Chesson, J, Fisher, M, Sainsbury, K, Hundloe, T, Smith, A & Whitworth, B. 2002, National ESD Reporting Framework for Australian Fisheries: The ‘How To’ Guide for Wild Capture Fisheries. FRDC Project 2000/145, Canberra, Australia.

Risk profiles are used to develop appropriate mitigation measures to be implemented through the Performance Measurement System and Stewardship Action Plan 2013: Mitigating Ecological Risk in a Changing Climate.

Risk Reporting Management Response
Negligible 0 Short justification only Nil
Low 1-6 Full justification needed None specific
Moderate 7-12 Full performance report Continue current management arrangements
High 13-18 Full performance report Changes to management required
Extreme 19-30 Full performance report Substantial additional management needed urgently



The Ecological Risk Assessment of the Queensland Coral Fishery in 2013 identified 17 species at the moderate level of risk. A further 63 species were judged to be at low risk in the fishery.

Acanthastrea bowerbanki
Acanthastrea lordhowensis
Acanthophyllia deshayesiana
Acropora multiacuta
Acropora nana
Cycloseris cyclolites
Cynarina lacrymalis
Duncanopsammia axifuga
Entacmaea quadricolor
Euphyllia ancora
Euphyllia cristata
Euphyllia divisa
Euphyllia fimbriata
Euphyllia glabrascens
Micromussa amakusensis
Scolymia australis
Trachyphyllia geoffroyi
Acropora acuminata
Acropora aspera
Acropora bushyensis
Acropora chesterfieldensis
Acropora digitifera
Acropora horrida
Acropora hyachinthus
Acropora listeri
Acropora millepora
Acropora palmerae
Acropora paniculata
Acropora plana
Acropora prostrata
Acropora subglabra
Acropora verweyi
Actinia tenebrosa
Balanophyllia europaea
Blastomussa merleti
Blastomussa wellsi
Catalaphyllia jardinei
Caulastrea curvata
Caulastrea echinulata
Caulastrea furcata
Cladiella spp.
Clavularia spp.
Cryptodendrum adhaesivum
Dendrophyllia spp.
Diaseris fragilis
Euphyllia paraancora
Euphyllia paradivisa
Favites abdita
Favites flexuosa
Favites pentagona
Fungia repanda
Goniastrea australensis
Gorgoniidae various
Heliofungia actiniformis
Heliopora coerulea
Heteractis aurora
Heteractis crispa
Heteractis magnifica
Heteropsammia cochlea
Leptoseris incrustans
Leptoseris papyracea
Leptoseris yabei
Montipora caliculata
Moseleya latistellata
Pachyclavularia spp.
Pachyseris rugosa
Pavona cactus
Plerogyra sinuosa
Scolymia vitiensis
Sinularia spp.
Stichodactyla gigantea
Stichodactyla haddoni
Stichodactyla mertensii
Turbinaria bifrons
Turbinaria conspicua
Turbinaria frondens
Turbinaria heronensis
Turbinaria mesenterina
Turbinaria patula
Turbinaria reniformis

The Ecological Risk Assessment of the Queensland Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery in 2008 identified two species at the moderate level of risk. A further seven species were judged to be at low risk in the fishery.

The next Ecological Risk Assessment for the Queensland Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery is due in 2014. It is expected that that assessment will mirror the rigour applied to the Queensland Coral Fishery and will also demand finer scale reporting of fishery data.

When the 2014 Ecological Risk Assessment is carried out, identified risks will be updated on the Pro-vision Reef Inc. website to keep the initiative current.

Chaetodontoplus duboulayi
Chaetodontoplus meredithi
Amphiprion latezonatus
Amphiprion melanopus
Amphiprion ocellaris
Amphiprion percula
Choerodon fasciatus
Cleidopus gloriamaris
Paracanthurus hepatus

Commonwealth Coral Sea Fishery

Coral Sea collectors  install their own moorings to minimise the risk of anchor damage.

Coral Sea collectors
install their own moorings to minimise the risk of anchor damage.

The ‘Reducing Uncertain Stock Status’ project undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences in 2011 clarified the status of stocks accessed by the aquarium sector of the Commonwealth Coral Sea Fishery.

The project found the potential maximum footprint achievable by the fishery, with the two existing fishery practitioners, to be around 7.4% of the estimated suitable habitat area in a given fishing season. The estimated extraction rate for the 2008–09 fishing season (the largest catch season) for all key commercial families was less than 0.02% of potential population size.

The risk assessment considered 623 species. All were found to be at low risk or very low risk. Consequently, no action will be taken in Stewardship Action Plan 2013: Mitigating Ecological Risk in a Changing Climate in regard to the Commonwealth Coral Sea Fishery assessment. This could change over time and participating businesses stand ready to respond should risks be identified in the future.