The announcement by the Prime Minister today for $63.6 million of Australian Government funding for AIMS is an important investment in our nation’s marine science.
This year marks AIMS’ golden anniversary. Fifty years of important scientific research, from Ningaloo in the west, across the Top End to the Great Barrier Reef, has enabled the nation and the world to gain unique insights into tropical marine ecosystems. With this knowledge AIMS has developed globally relevant and innovative research solutions that deliver positive impact.
The funding announced today has three components which will help AIMS to continue its mission to understand and solve the large-scale, complex and emerging challenges facing Australia’s vast and remote northern oceans.
(1) $29.7 million towards AIMS’ annual core research funding, reflecting the increased operating costs of conducting this world leading research in Australia’s remote tropical waters.
The allocation acknowledges the contribution that AIMS’ scientific research makes to protecting our oceans, and to the sustainable productivity of marine industries.
As noted in the most recent AIMS Index of Marine Industry, Australia’s “Blue Economy” contributes more than $80 billion annually to the national economy, is 3.7% of our GDP and employs more than 340,000 people.
(2) $5.3 million to complete a detailed design of a new state-of-the-art marine research vessel to replace the RV Cape Ferguson which joined AIMS’ research fleet in 2000. The Cape Ferguson has been the work horse of AIMS’ Great Barrier Reef field research and monitoring program for over 20 years, covering as much as 15,000 nautical miles during 270 sea days a year.
She has however now reached the end of her operational life, and will need to be replaced this decade with a new vessel that incorporates hybrid low-emissions propulsion, better sea-keeping, and the latest technology platforms for integrated data collection. This will enable Australia to protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef and support the industries and jobs that depend on it, particularly as it faces warming ocean temperatures and other pressures from climate change.
(3) $28.6 million to complete design and construction of a new wharf at our Cape Cleveland site south of Townsville. Major movements in coastal sediment have rendered the existing infrastructure unable to berth our research vessels, which are required to stand-off some distance from the wharf and use small boat transfers to shuttle live specimens of coral and other marine animals from the ship to aquariums at the National Sea Simulator.
The wharf remediation project will return to operation the only major research vessel access facility located in a scientific protected zone in Australia.
This funding package will enable AIMS to provide the research knowledge to ensure our tropical oceans continue to produce sustainable wealth and enjoyment for generations to come and enable Australia to maintain its position as a leader in tropical marine science.