Photograph of ocean waves

New classifications system for marine bioregions

The National Marine Bioregionalisation of Australia is providing a framework for classifying Australia’s marine environment into bioregions relevant to their physical environment and ecological communities.

  • 17 October 2006 | Updated 14 October 2011

It includes a range of spatial scales that are useful for regional marine planning and management and is the most comprehensive national marine bioregionalisation developed for any part of the world.

It was developed with the contributions of many organisations including Geosciences Australia as a major collaborator and through funding support from the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage.

The project, managed by the National Oceans Office, was designed to help define and describe the marine ecosystems of Australia's ocean territory.

A number of scientists from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research were involved in developing the products with colleagues from museums, state and national agencies.

CSIRO contributed the first ever bioregionalisation of Australia's relatively unexplored continental slope, and a three-dimensional regionalisation of the oceans around Australia based on a huge data compilation exercise.

The project was designed to help define and describe the marine ecosystems of Australia's ocean territory.

By better defining what is in our oceans, the National Marine Bioregionalisation provides a framework to help in making management decisions on the basis of spatial and ecological criteria.

It has been adopted by the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage as the underlying spatial framework for developing regional marine plans and establishing a national representative system of marine protected areas as required by Australia’s Oceans Policy.

This is also leading to its broader adoption within the scientific community as a standard framework for interpreting ecological information and structuring observational programs and spatial models.

Read more about our work in the Oceans.