A $20million, six-year-long marine research joint venture between the CSIRO and the Western Australian Government is set to hand down its final report to the State Government.
The Strategic Research Fund for the Marine Environment (SRFME) was aimed at rebuilding marine science in WA.
The project has re-established CSIRO’s marine research capability to a group of 25 marine scientists and by the additional training of 12 PhD students in local universities.
SRFME has also facilitated strong co-operation among the WA marine science community, meaning many projects are now done in collaboration between CSIRO, State Government agencies and universities.
Along the way, SRFME has also made a number of exciting discoveries and increased awareness, understanding and knowledge about WA’s marine environment by producing over 140 scientific publications on the State’s flora, fauna and ecology.
Environment Minister Tony McRae, who will release the final report and open a marine science symposium in Perth, said that SRFME had made great improvements in describing the biodiversity of marine ecosystems of WA and understanding how they functioned.
“This will be invaluable in enabling decision making about a large range of environmental and natural marine resource management issues,” Mr McRae said.
“Encouraged by the SRFME track record of success, the WA State Government has recently announced investment of a further $21million to establish the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI).
“In doing so, they have demonstrated the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the capacity for marine science in WA is maintained and grown.”
Premier Alan Carpenter said the report was the result of an unprecedented amount of research.
“From this report, it is apparent that the goals for SRFME have been impressively exceeded,” Mr Carpenter said.
SRFME Research director Dr John Keesing emphasised the importance of basic research, like that carried out in SRFME, which explored the marine environment, documented its biodiversity and measured key physical, chemical, biological and ecological attributes.
“Making decisions about management, development and conservation of the marine environment without such information was like making decisions blindfolded,” Dr Keesing said.
“There are still too many parts of the WA marine environment for which we lack this fundamental basic information.”
Dr Keesing said WA possessed a world-class marine science expertise with the ability to tackle the State’s marine environmental information needs.
“During the lifetime of SRFME, CSIRO's marine research staff in WA grew by about 500 per cent and more importantly, a vibrant and effective culture of co-operation was established with collaborators in WA universities, State Agencies and the WA Museum,” he said.
Dr Keesing said the SRFME marine science symposium was an opportunity for scientists to present the outcome of their five years of research to an audience from a broad cross-section of academic, Government and private sector decision-makers.
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