< IMOS infrastructure captures details of Tropical Cyclone ‘Ita’
29.07.2014 03:30 Age: 3 yrs

Call for White Papers to Support Development of a National Marine Science Plan

Last year the national Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group (OPSAG) launched Marine Nation 2025: Marine Science to Support Australia’s Blue Economy. This position paper explained the role marine science can play in helping Australia deal with a number of Grand Challenges we will face over the next decade. As the title suggests, it pitched to Government and industry stakeholders and the role that marine science can play in supporting growth of our $47 billion marine “blue” economy.


John Gunn, Chair of the National Marine Science Committee (formerly the Ocean Policy Science Advisory Group, OPSAG) writes Marine Nation 2025 has been very well received by a broad range of stakeholders, including the Commonwealth Government, and OPSAG (recently renamed the National Marine Science Committee) has been encouraged to push forward with the key recommendations set out in the document. One of these was to develop a National Marine Science Strategy (now referred to as the National Marine Science Plan). I’m writing to enlist your support in this process. 

Marine science is a multifaceted sector within our research/development/innovation system. It brings together dozens of disciplines, fundamental and applied science, and engineering. It includes applications in national security/defence, energy and resources, earth systems/climate, natural resource management, food security, aquaculture and biodiversity conservation. As such it seems an ambitious task to bring together in one document a plan for how we should proceed in the next ten years. However, there are some compelling reasons why this is a worthwhile objective. 

  • At national and international levels there is a growing demand from funders and the public for the research and development (R&D) sector to engage more directly in science that will have national/global benefit. The Grand Challenges and opportunities spelled out in Marine Nation 2025 provide a clear articulation of where Australia would benefit from focussed input from marine science. 
  • Governments (and private investors) take notice when an R&D community comes together to articulate and prioritise science needs, particularly when these are focussed in key societal benefit areas, and are endorsed by end‐users. 
  • Finally, the number and size of the Grand Challenges, matched with the relatively small capability and resource base we have in Australia, argue that we need to work together to address priority science goals and have a strong and unified voice when it comes to major investments in capability development, science programs and critical research infrastructure. 

Process for developing the National Marine Science Plan 

The National Marine Science Committee has identified eight theme areas (drawing on the Grand Challenges and opportunities identified in Marine Nation 2025) that will be used to focus the development of the National Marine Science Plan. These are: 

  • Sovereignty, security and natural hazards 
  • Energy security 
  • Food security 
  • Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health 
  • Dealing with climate change 
  • Optimal resource allocation 
  • Urban coastal environments 
  • Infrastructure 

The National Marine Science Committee will use a three step process for developing the National Marine Science Plan. 

  • The science community (i.e. you) are invited to submit a white paper covering any aspect of the marine science spectrum that they (you) believe need consideration within the National Marine Science Plan. You may choose to contribute to several white papers, under one or several of the eight theme areas listed above. 
  • The white papers (under the eight theme areas) will then be discussed at a National Marine Science Symposium, to be held at the Australian Academy of Science Shine Dome, 25-26 November 2014. At the Symposium invited leaders of the marine science community will be asked to present a summary of the white papers from each of the theme areas, and lead a discussion of what should be harvested for inclusion in the National Marine Science Plan. 
  • Using input from white papers and the outcomes of the Symposium, a National Marine Science Plan will then be developed for publication in March‐April 2015. 

 Your role in the white paper process 

As mentioned above, we invite you to engage by working with your nominated theme convenor, and colleagues within your discipline, institution or research sector, to develop a white paper or papers. 

Next steps 

1. Please contact your theme convenor(s) to register your interest in participating on the white paper process by Monday 4 August 2014. A theme convenor list is at Attachment A in this pdf

2. Develop and submit your white paper(s) by Monday 29 September 2014. Please engage your colleagues in the development of your white paper as you deem appropriate. A guide white paper template is at Attachment B. Please note that all white papers will eventually be made publicly available as a record of this process. 

Thank you for your anticipated involvement in this important, sector-driven, marine science policy planning process. 

John Gunn 

Chair, National Marine Science Committee (formerly the Ocean Policy Science Advisory Group, OPSAG)