Minister Hunt joined University of Tasmania scientists and volunteer divers on a Reef Life Survey at Tinderbox Marine Reserve south of Hobart before the launch.


NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub launched in Hobart by the Hon Greg Hunt MP

The Hub provides a major pathway for uptake and use of IMOS observations to do highly relevant research for policy and management.

Australia’s Environment Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, launched the Marine Biodiversity Hub, one of six hubs funded under the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) in Hobart on Wednesday.

$23.88 million is being provided to the Marine Biodiversity Hub for the research - as part of the Australian Government's $142 million National Environmental Science Programme (NESP).

The six-year NESP initiative aims to help decision-makers understand, manage and conserve Australia’s environment by funding world-class biodiversity and climate science.

The Marine Biodiversity Hub follows on from two earlier hubs and will support marine biodiversity management and conservation with the $23.88 million funding delivered through UTAS.

The first and second marine hubs contributed biological knowledge for Australia’s Commonwealth Marine Reserve network, and supported bioregional planning and management with new survey and monitoring methods, including for rare and threatened species, and studies of community views on marine conservation.

The new Hub embraces more coastal issues and more listed species, and aims to achieve measurable improvements in the marine environment, through better management or actions such as coastal restoration.

“Australia’s ocean territory is greater than its landmass, and most of the action lies beneath the surface, invisible to the naked eye,” Hub Director, Professor Nic Bax says.

“The Hub brings together more than 100 scientists from 10 partner agencies to look beneath the ocean surface: to measure, predict and report on how the ocean is responding to pressures such as climate change and the use of marine resources from offshore shipping to coastal pollution."

“We need to know not only what is there, but how it is being affected by human activities (including management) and what actions could be taken to improve its value to the Australian public. This is not easy."

“While Reef Life Survey engages citizen scientists in shallow waters, we also use satellites and ships, remote cameras, gliders and robots from our partners including Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System to study ocean features such as canyons, seamounts, seabeds and upwellings."

“Acoustic telemetry, DNA sampling and aerial photography are being used to track northern river sharks, white sharks, hammerhead sharks and right whales to support plans for their recovery.”

IMOS Director, Tim Moltmann who attended the launch says “When IMOS was established a strategic decision was made to invest not just in measurements of ocean physics for climate and weather research, but also in biological observations to support the study of marine ecosystems.  The Marine Biodiversity Hub is therefore a very important research partner for IMOS.”

“We are both national programs with many partners in common.  The Hub provides a major pathway for uptake and use of IMOS observations to do research that is highly relevant for policy and management.  And through its own research projects, the Hub will add new data to the Australian Ocean Data Network.”

“It’s exciting to see the Hub launched.  Given that it has a six year life, we expect the research partnership to be extremely productive.”

NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub partners (links below are to the IMOS partners section to demonstrate the common partners involved in both the Marine Biodiversity Hub and IMOS)

Australian Institute of Marine Science, Charles Darwin University, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, Integrated Marine Observing System, Museum Victoria, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, University of Tasmania, University of Western Australia

Related news: In the first episode of the IMOS in mOcean video series, Dr Michelle Heupel from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) talks about her research tracking sharks using the IMOS Animal Tracking receiver arrays along the east coast. Knowledge of marine animal movements can inform decisions about marine resource management. Dr Heupel leads one of the Marine Biodiversity Hub themes: Improving the management of threatened and migratory species.
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Tracking migratory species such as sharks, to improve the management of threatened species is one of the research themes of the new hub. Image credit: Amandine Schaeffer, UNSW.