Message from the CEO, John Gunn

Message from the CEO, John Gunn

Welcome to the autumn edition of Waypoint.

It’s been a hectic period at AIMS, with plentiful activity on both the Australian and international fronts.

Through extensive field programs, publications in leading journals, communiques to public and private industry stakeholders, contributions to expert panels convened by State and Commonwealth governments and our active membership of national and international advisory committees, AIMS continues to play the role as a respected provider of scientific information to support our governments, industry and the wider community in making informed decisions about Australia’s marine estate.

In April, Dr Camille Mellin and her colleagues published a study showing the effectiveness of no-take zones in allowing reefs to recover from disturbances such as coral bleaching, starfish outbreaks, storms and coral disease.

In the same month, a paper by Dr Frederike Kroon and co-authors assessed the ongoing impact of agricultural activities on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef. The data suggests that implementing alternatives to traditional agricultural systems in Australia will support reef health into the future.

With recent evidence that the Great Barrier Reef and reefs to Australia’s north-west are undergoing severe bleaching, AIMS scientists are involved in the coordinated response by the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce. But our involvement goes beyond just monitoring: the condition of the reefs is providing AIMS researchers with a rare opportunity to examine the ability of corals to adapt and evolve in warming oceans. The evidence generated will be critical to enable informed decisions about the management of coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef under future climate change conditions.

AIMS is also a key contributor to the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan through scientific activities as part of the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program. This covers all aspects of the Reef’s environment including its natural and physical attributes, heritage values and its social, economic and cultural aspects.

On a more personal level, I was delighted to participate as an Invited Expert at a G7-sponsored Ocean Science Forum in the UK in March. This meeting focused on the development of a position paper for G7 Science Ministers and Heads of State highlighting the need for enhanced observations of the oceans. A specific goal is to develop a basis for robust tracking of global ocean health, analogous to the way we can report on the role of the oceans in the climate system. The meeting report specifically highlights the benefits of involving Australia in such developments, and also recognizes the global leadership shown by Australian marine scientists and the high value of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).

Also on the international front, AIMS will partner with the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Science (IOCAS) to form The Sino-Australian Centre for Healthy Coasts (SACHC). As announced by Australian Government Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, SACHC will explore solutions for management of coastal pollution and ecosystem protection in multiuse coastal zones.