A global team of scientists is predicting the death of thousands of blue crabs and other fish in the Great Barrier Coast.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has said the reef has lost about a million tonnes of sea grass, a significant loss in a year when grasses are harvested.
Its new Blue Crab and Tuna Recovery Strategy said the loss of marine food and fisheries is a “critical challenge”.
The group’s Global Monitoring of Marine Food Resources said about 6.3 million tonnes (6.3m tonnes) of marine fish and crustaceans have been killed by blue crabs, while about a third of all fish caught in the Northern Territory are dead.
“Blue crabs are the main predators of many species of marine life, including tuna, sharks, rays, seahorses, and crabs,” the IUCN said.
“A huge amount of fish are eaten by blue crab, and many of the species of crustacean are highly nutritious for their size.”
The IUCn said about one-third of the marine food resources that the Great Blue Crab, Tuna, and White Spot species depend on are already under threat.
“The Great Barrier reef is one of the most important ecosystems in the world and a critical resource for many marine species, including blue crabs,” it said.
The Great Blue Whisker, the Great Red Crab, and the Great Grey Shark are the most common species of fish caught by blue cephalopods.
Blue crab stocks have been estimated to be at risk of declining due to habitat loss, overfishing and overharvesting.