Marine science research has taken a major step forward in Western Australia with the launch of two major research programs involving more than 180 scientists.
Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett officially launched the programs on Friday morning as he opened the Western Australian Marine Science Institution’s (WAMSI) new Floreat office.
The two projects - the Kimberley Marine Research Program and the Dredging Science Program - involve 12 of WAMSI’s 15 partner institutions.
“The Kimberley Marine Research Program is the research component of the Liberal National Government’s $63million Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy,” Mr Barnett said.
“The State Government’s $12million investment has leveraged $18million which will enable 130 scientists to undertake research from 80 Mile Beach to the Northern Territory border - more than 630,000 square kilometres.
“This project will produce scientific knowledge to better define the marine park boundaries and internal zoning. It will help us understand the implications of major developments and future ecological changes.”
The Premier said the Dredging Science Program involved more than 50 scientists and would further develop understanding of the environmental impacts associated with dredging.
“This knowledge will help Government to improve approval and regulatory processes as well as assist industry. The work will be undertaken in offshore areas between Exmouth and Onslow, where dredging will take place,” he said.
“The initial project funding comes from $9million in environmental offsets required by ministerial approval, and is a sensible and practical way of using these funds to better protect the environment.
“This research will also ensure we protect our iconic natural marine resource when dredging is necessary for industry. Western Australia is well placed to become a leader in this area.”
Mr Barnett said the Government’s investment in WAMSI had enabled them to tackle some of the biggest issues affecting the State’s marine environment.
“WAMSI’s collaborative approach to marine science has significantly increased our understanding of the State’s ocean environment. This will assist us to make decisions to balance its preservation while managing tourism, resource development, fisheries and aquaculture,” he said.
“WAMSI undertook a five-year research project to sample the deeper waters off the Ningaloo Marine Park to confirm the area’s status as a biodiversity hotspot.
“It uncovered 618 new species of molluscs, sea fans, soft coral and sponges that have never been found in Australia before - more than 75 of the sponges are new to science.”
The Kimberley research will begin in July 2013 and be completed in 2018
WAMSI will work with 14 traditional owner groups in the Kimberley
WAMSI attracted more than $92million to WA from the State Government’s initial $21million investment
Premier’s office - 6552 5000
Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) has:
Mapped the coastal wave regimes for planning and infrastructure management
Predicted the climate change variation of the Leeuwin current
New discoveries of deepwater sponges off Ningaloo Reef
Tenfold increase in the scientific understanding of the Ningaloo Marine Park
Established an ecosystems-based and sustainable fisheries management system that has been adopted around the State
Developed a tourism destination model for the Ningaloo Coast
Secured the sustainable management of the Western Rock Lobster
Improved the safety, reliability and operation of engineering projects by understanding the oceanographic processes on coastal infrastructure and offshore structures in the North West Shelf
Established the WA Marine Bioresources Library.