A BBC documentary about the Indian Ocean, screening in Australia this week, features the work of UWA Oceans Institute researcher Professor Jessica Meeuwig.
Professor Meeuwig, who is with UWA's Centre for Marine Futures and the School of Animal Biology, specialises in marine and fisheries conservation and quantitative modelling.
She is featured in the final episode of the BBC's Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve, which will air on SBS One Television on Wednesday 11 July at 8.30pm (in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide); and midnight in Perth.
The six-part series highlights the people and ecosystems of 16 countries around the Indian Ocean rim, beginning in South Africa and ending in south-west WA, with a focus on the oceans and their wildlife.
In the final episode, Professor Meeuwig and her team take the BBC crew out to sea where they demonstrate their use of underwater camera systems to study fish species.
Professor Meeuwig says the data from the cameras is essential to understanding the current status of Western Australia's fish.
"Many of the fish species we have in WA, such as dhufish and baldchin groper, are found nowhere else in the world," she said.
"Our research answers basic questions such as how many fish are there and how big are they. From this information, we can monitor changes through time and evaluate how management initiatives such as changes to bag limits and the implementation of no-take sanctuary zones support the recovery of over-exploited species."
In the program, Reeve and Meeuwig discuss the importance of large no-take marine sanctuaries in which petroleum and fishing activities are excluded.
"While Western Australia's marine environment is in relatively good condition compared to other regions of the Indian Ocean, we have seen substantial declines in the abundance of a number of key species," she said. "Sanctuaries protect biodiversity and thus allow exploited populations to recover as well as helping us understand what intact, non-exploited marine ecosystems look like. Sanctuaries are the national parks of the sea and are fundamental to ocean health."
The importance of marine sanctuaries has been recently recognised by the Australia Government with the declaration of the world's largest network of no-take marine national parks in the world.
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