Intertidal habitats are unquestionably the most vulnerable to activities by the general community because of their accessibility. A range of seashore communities is threatened, especially in easily visited areas. Keough et al. (1993) and Keough and Quinn (1998) monitored human activity (collecting for food and bait) on rocky shores near Melbourne and found high proportions of exploitative activity – 25% of visitors were actively collecting, despite protective regulations.


The types of habitats in which harvesting occurs differ from place to place and depend on the animals being targeted. In recent years, the abundance of invertebrates in the intertidal zone around metropolitan centres has declined largely due to collecting for food or bait by recreational fishers (e.g., NSW Fisheries 1998a). There are particular concerns about octopus, cunjevoi and molluscs from rocky shores, and pipis and cockles from sandy and muddy shores respectively. Some forms of bait collecting are also of concern, with a large proportion of recreational fishers obtaining their own bait from pumping ghost shrimps or worms from sand flats and collecting algae, crustaceans, gastropods, bivalves and ascidians from rocky shores (Fairweather and Quinn 1995). Of particular concern is suction pumping for “yabbies”, a method that destroys sand flats and seagrass beds. Declines through over-collection have been exacerbated by destructive collection techniques such as the use of crowbars. Other impacts include damage to individuals and habitats from trampling (Keough and Quinn 1998) or overturning of rocks.

Copyright © Environment Australia, 2002
Department of Environment and Heritage