Fisheries Research Articles

Demersal and epibenthic fauna in a temperate marine embayment, Cockburn Sound, Western Australia: determination of key indicator species

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia




biodiversity, baseline survey, long term monitoring, research trawls, Owen Anchorage, EBFM, EAFM, resource condition targets (RCTs)


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


With the advent of Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management accurate information on non commercial species distributions and abundances has become essential. This study examined the demersal and epibenthic faunal diversity in Cockburn Sound, an important recreational and commercial fishing, boating and industrial locality in Western Australia, to provide a baseline dataset of species distributions and abundances, and to determine indicator species for future long term monitoring. Short research trawls were undertaken in seven sites sampled three times in two seasons. A total of 216 taxa from six phyla were collected. Many of the species (24%) were rare, collected from one site at one time and only 16% were common and widespread occurring at all sites in most surveys. Motile species dominated the communities. Species richness and community diversity was highest at the northern sites at the entrance to the Sound and graded to lowest richness and diversity in the enclosed southern end. Average abundance and biomass was low throughout the Sound compared to other areas along the Western Australian coastline. This study found eight species that provided good representation of overall community patterns in the Sound that can be used as indicator species in future monitoring of this impacted embayment.