Australia’s marine biodiversity is globally distinctive but its dimensions are still being discovered. This chapter looks at how science is being used to better explore and understand life in the oceans, and how it can inform better management decisions.
There are two big challenges in managing biodiversity of our seas and coasts: understanding Australia’s marine biodiversity and agreeing on goals for its management.
Australia’s marine biodiversity is globally distinctive. The biggest obstacle to understanding it, and providing clear advice on managing it, is still the difficulty of describing and measuring it. Australian scientists are working to:
- develop smarter ways of detecting and measuring biodiversity
- improve our use of surrogates – things that provide insights into a plant or animal of interest but are easier to measure than that species
- understand marine connectivity – a feature that means, for example, that biodiversity depleted in one area may possibly be recolonised with biodiversity from another.
Collaboration between scientists, managers and society is vital for managing our marine biodiversity while supporting sustainable development of our marine industries. Already, Australia has developed a science-based participatory process for fisheries management within a clear legislative framework.
Australia is also participating in international marine management for southern bluefin tuna, Antarctic marine living resources, and identification of ecologically significant areas on the high seas.
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Alan Butler and Nicholas Bax
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