A school of Jack Mackerel fish

A school of Jack Mackerel

Sustainable ocean ecosystems and living resources

The Wealth from Oceans Flagship is delivering science and technology to help sustain life in Australia's ocean realm.

  • 21 October 2009 | Updated 21 November 2013

Scientists in this research theme combine expertise in fisheries and social sciences, biodiversity, conservation, and natural resource economics.

They provide knowledge and tools to measure and understand the competing uses of Australia's oceans, and assess their cumulative impacts.

This understanding assists in the integration of marine biodiversity and marine industry management to meet economic and conservation goals.

Research challenges

Australia has a vast and largely unexplored ocean territory which is difficult and costly to observe, has many competing uses, and is subject to the effects of climate change.

The Flagship takes a lead role in providing scientific advice for managing Australia’s ocean resources, biodiversity and marine invasive species.

Managing this territory calls for innovative research that combines advanced observing and data management systems with analyses that integrate across biology, ecology, oceanography, social science and economics.

The Wealth from Oceans Flagship applies such expertise, and works with resource and conservation managers to:

  • support a national oceans information system to detect change and meet priorities such as state of the environment reporting
  • assess changes in marine ecosystems as a result of human activities
  • assess the impact of climate change on ocean living resources, in particular acidification
  • develop modelling tools that incorporate marine physics, biology, socio-economics, and the human behaviours that shape marine industries (such as the activities of fishing fleets)
  • conduct whole of system assessments that integrate social, economic and ecological goals, account for gaps in information, and address tradeoffs between competing uses
  • assess new incentive approaches for resource management.


The Flagship is helping transform fisheries in Australia and our region to an economically productive and ecologically sustainable status.

We support ecosystem based fisheries management through the development and application of: 

  • an ecological risk assessment framework for Australian and international fisheries
  • the Commonwealth Harvest Strategy Policy, which sets fishery catch limits according to agreed scientific and economic goals
  • assessment tools for fishery stocks, environmental impacts, industry economic performance and spatial management.


Australia's oceans contain rich and largely unexplored biodiversity. The Flagship is delivering the science needed to build a management system for conserving this biodiversity in the face of threats such as:

  • climate change
  • habitat loss
  • incidental capture
  • invasive marine pests.

Our researchers are providing scientific support for national conservation measures and initiatives including the:

  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999)
  • National Biodiversity Strategy
  • National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions
  • Marine Bioregional Planning program, including identification and selection of marine parks (National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas)
  • development and integration of biodiversity offsets and spatial management
  • development of risk indicators for marine bioregional planning, marine park management and state-of-the-environment reporting
  • Integrated Marine Observing System.

Research partners

The Flagship takes a lead role in providing scientific advice to Commonwealth agencies responsible for managing Australia's ocean resources, biodiversity and marine invasive species.

Key government partners include the:

  • Australian Fisheries Management Authority
  • Department of Environment, Water and Heritage
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Our research draws on national facilities managed by CSIRO, including the:

  • Marine National Facility Research Vessel, Southern Surveyor
  • Australian National Fish Collection
  • CSIRO National Algal Culture Collection.


Biodiversity and fisheries management are important for regional development. The Flagship plays a role in capacity building and providing scientific advice to fisheries and conservation initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region.

Our science is aligned with Australia's commitments to regional fisheries management agencies and United Nations organisations, as well as serving the research needs of AusAID and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Find out more about the Wealth from Oceans Flagship.