Using Ocean Accounting towards an integrated assessment of ecosystem services and benefits within a coastal lake
Coasts lie at the interface between terrestrial and marine environments, where complex interrelationships and feedbacks between environmental, social and economic factors provide a challenge for decision-making. The knowledge and data needed to link and measure these multiple domains are often highly fragmented and incoherent. Ocean Accounting provides a means to organise relevant ocean data into a common framework, grounded in existing international statistical standards for national and environmental-economic accounting. Here, we test Ocean Accounting within Lake Illawarra, New South Wales (Australia), compiling accounts for the years between 2010 and 2020, inclusive, to measure the extent of coastal vegetation (mangrove, tidal marsh and seagrass) and associated ecosystem services flows (climate change mitigation, eutrophication mitigation) in physical and monetary terms and associated production and employment within sectors of the ocean economy. The accounts show an increase in mangroves by 2 ha and a decrease in seagrass of 80 ha. A net increase was observed in the amount of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus sequestered across coastal vegetation, due to the expansion of mangroves. Alongside changes in ecosystem extent, a 2-fold increase in full-time ocean-related employment was observed. Fisheries catch also showed significant variation over the 10-year period, where dependencies were observed between commercial species with seagrass and tidal marsh. The relationships and measures derived from accounts provide a cohesive and integrated understanding to provide information for the management and standardised ecosystem service assessments.
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Department of Primary Industries