AIMS has been instrumental in the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership (GHHP), a stakeholder-driven monitoring and advisory body for the central Queensland harbour. AIMS scientists have contributed scientific expertise, practical capabilities and technological solutions to the Partnership since its inception, and continue to support future developments.
The GHHP brings together 26 partner organisations interested in maintaining or, if necessary, improving the health of Gladstone Harbour. Formed in 2013, the partners stem from three levels of government, industry, community, traditional owners and the research sector.
The cornerstone product for assessing the health of Gladstone Harbour is the GHHP Report Card. This transparent reporting tool synthesises data from 78 measures to develop “indicators” for environmental, social, cultural and economic components of harbour health and returns an overall score, as well as individual component scores. It is a fast, effective and accessible tool to support decision-making and is available to all stakeholders to help guide future management of the harbour.
The report card is updated annually. The 2020 GHHP Report Card is now available.
The GHHP report card is data-driven, and the processes developed are based on the best available science. The scientific expertise and capabilities of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) have played a key role in both the design phase and pilot phase of the Partnership’s science program and continue to facilitate the operational phase.
Creating tools for decision support
The Report Card scores are generated by the Data Information Management System (DIMS), designed, developed and implemented by AIMS. This sophisticated system transforms large, complex environmental, social, cultural and economic data sets into a series of easily understood indices, and culminating in an overall Harbour Health grade.
Once raw data is brought into the system by data providers, it is subjected to quality control measures to ensure the integrity of the final result. The data is processed and analysed using dedicated statistical protocols and aggregation tools. The resulting outputs are then compared to appropriate benchmark figures, guided by expert advice. This comparison of the outputs against the benchmarks provides the final grade for the report card. These processes, from data processing to grade generation, are semi-automated.
Harbour health across 13 geographic zones is presented in map-based, graphical format, and is easily accessed by stakeholders. Results can be scrutinised for further detail, as the transparent and hierarchical system allows users to ‘drill’ into data for further investigation of indicators and sub-indicator results. This approach can be used to identify areas that may require attention and therefore prioritise management efforts.
Expertise for data-driven decision-making
The GHHP is informed by independent, peer-reviewed science through the Independent Science Panel (ISP). During the design phase, the ISP provided independent scientific advice on the most appropriate measures and indicators to provide a meaningful picture of harbour environmental, cultural and socioeconomic health.
Two AIMS researchers, Dr Britta Schaffelke and Dr Richard Brinkman, are members of the GHHP ISP, contributing their water quality and coastal oceanography expertise.
AIMS researchers are also engaged by the Science Program to contribute pertinent, best available scientific information and reviews for the consideration of the panel, as well as lead annual monitoring of coral health in the area.
Recognising the need to understand where the gaps in knowledge lie for the Gladstone Harbour area, AIMS was tasked with collating, synthesising and presenting all available information pertaining to the region. This synthesis culminated into the development of the GHHP ePortal. The ePortal is a centralised online resource of reliable information about Gladstone Harbour. Maintained and updated by AIMS, the metadata catalogue provides stakeholders and the general community with easy access to whole-of-Harbour knowledge.