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Marine science focus turns to Perth metro and south coast

19 June 2018

Fishing for Blue Swimmer crabs near Mandurah (Ian Anderick)

The Perth metro and southern coastlines are among the next areas of focus for research development by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution partnership.

Having successfully executed one of the largest single-issue research projects in Australia on dredging science and another in the Kimberley, the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) has determined five key areas to address in the next step to delivering the science priorities outlined in the WA Blueprint for Marine Science.

 

WAMSI has successfully delivered the Kimberley Marine Research Program and the Dredging Science Node (Image: Mat Vanderklift)

 

WAMSI Chief Executive Officer Dr Luke Twomey said the WAMSI Board, including representatives from universities, CSIRO, The Australian Institute of Marine Science and government, had supported the decision to work on determining the science required to meet the community, industry and infrastructure needs off the Perth metro and southern coastlines; the Shark Bay World Heritage site; decommissioning; and marine science information management.

“There is a variety of new and existing pressures along the Perth metropolitan coastline including the Westport port and environs strategy, the Defence expansion at Garden Island and ongoing industry and infrastructure needs aligned with coastal development,” Dr Twomey said. “We need to take a holistic view of how we use that marine environment and determine what science will be required to help us make better decisions.”

The WAMSI joint venture partnership consisting of 15 industry, government and academic institutions also identified gaps in understanding about the south coast that needed to be fed back into state and federal marine park planning.

“More recently the southern coastline has become a hub for The University of Western Australia led Wave Energy Research Centre, developing aquaculture and ecotourism industries, as well as ongoing interest in offshore development,” Dr Twomey said. “The time has come where we need to really discuss these research gaps with all those involved, including the Indigenous community, so we can ensure that science and investment is targeted.”         

Work is already underway to develop the science priorities for the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, with more than 70 representatives from research institutions, industry and government coming together recently in a workshop that is being developed into a white paper.            

WAMSI is also working with the two peak oil and gas industry advisory bodies, Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and National Energy Resources Australia, to help develop the questions and plans to meet the science priorities that emerged from the WAMSI review of stakeholder views on decommissioning offshore infrastructure.

 

WAMSI is working with industry to develop the questions and plans for decommissioning offshore infrastructure

 

Laying the groundwork for developing a system for marine science information management has also been identified as an immediate priority to support the blue economy into the future.

“It’s about getting as much data as we can and extracting as much value out of it as possible” Dr Twomey said. “We need to develop a way to bring together current monitoring data and make it more widely accessible.” 

“We’ve been working with the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute on developing a roadmap to obtain data from environmental impact assessments, research institutions, marine industries and marine park management and we’ll continue to develop that.”  

The Western Australian government has committed more than $2.6 million over three years to support the implementation of the Blueprint for Marine Science, which will guide long-term collaboration between all sectors operating in the marine environment and establish a hub for global marine research.