Making technical adjustments to the Darwin NRS Buoy. Image credit:Simon Spagnol, AIMS


Northern Australia set to benefit from user-driven collaborative marine research

Representatives of Australia’s marine science community have gathered in Darwin this week for the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) annual conference. Among the topics of discussion will be how the community can work together to address gaps in our knowledge of the marine environment of northern Australia.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Connections through Shallow Seas’ which alludes to linkages and collaborations across disciplines, organisations and regions.

The conference is expected to illuminate a number of opportunities for further observation of Australia’s northern marine estate, highlighting gaps in our understanding that could be filled by indigenous-industry-research organisation and other partnerships.

Director of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), Mr Tim Moltmann, believes there is great potential to inform appropriate and sustainable development of Australia’s north through collaborative research.

“The north of Australia offers marine industries such as fishing, aquaculture, shipping, energy and tourism enormous potential for growth and Aboriginal people have significant interests and opportunities in Australia’s northern marine estate as they control over 85% of the Northern Territory intertidal area ,” says Mr Moltmann.

Collaborations have already proved beneficial for industry and coastal communities in the Northern Territory. A collaboration between IMOS, the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS) and Darwin Port has been providing data on marine conditions such as water quality, waves and currents for a number of years now.

These data, made freely available to users of Darwin’s port and surrounding shipping channels, have helped to inform decisions on improving shipping safety and future development of Darwin Port and within the Harbour more generally. This collaboration represents a successful partnership between a research infrastructure and data provider (IMOS), a research organisation that interprets the data to create useful models (AIMS) and the end users of this research who enjoy economic and environmental benefits (Darwin Port and the people of the Northern Territory).

Dr Richard Brinkman, AIMS Research Program Leader in Sustainable Coastal Ecosystems and Industries in Tropical Australia, believes that complex issues are best tackled with the type of collaboration across organisations demonstrated in Darwin.

“This partnership shows that Australia’s marine researchers can pool their expertise to work with end-users to gather and analyse data to inform business, safety, environmental and conservation decisions,” says Dr Brinkman.

This year marks the beginning of the second decade of operation of IMOS and this is being acknowledged at the AMSA conference this week. On Thursday, four plenary speakers will each talk about the impact that IMOS infrastructure has had on their research and the benefits that have flowed through to the people of Australia.

IMOS is convening a session on ‘Observing the tropical northern waters’. In this session there are 16 presentations from researchers using IMOS observations. Presentations cover such issues as extreme marine warming, fish movements and water quality. Given the recent growth in the NT economy and its emerging need for development, IMOS and its operational partners are poised for increased activity in the region.

The AMSA conference runs from Sunday, 2nd July to Thursday, 6th July at the DoubleTree by Hilton & Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin.


Media Contact:

AMSA – Rachel Przeslawski, 0401 035 829,

Spokespeople available in Darwin during the conference:

IMOS – Mr Tim Moltmann

AIMS – Dr Richard Brinkman

Plenary speakers on Thursday (IMOS presentations)

Dr Moninya Roughan 'Insight into Continental Shelf Processes Along SE Australia from 10 years of IMOS observations’

Dr Richard Brinkman 'Sustainable Development of the North's Blue Economy – the role of IMOS to date, and into the future'

Professor Robert Harcourt 'IMOS Animal Tracking, 10 years of age and going strong’

Professor Anthony Richardson 'A decade of IMOS Plankton Observations'

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