Centre off to a flying start with new decision-support tool

Centre off to a flying start with new decision-support tool

The recently formed Sino-Australian Centre for Healthy Coasts (SACHC) is well on the path to developing coastal ecosystem management solutions after its first joint science meeting at the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOCAS) in Qingdao, China in November last year. SACHC collaborators from AIMS and IOCAS met to explore new approaches to bridging the gap between science and management in coastal marine ecosystems.

The pilot Marine Health Report Card for Jiaozhou Bay (2006-2010), based on long-term mean observed data. The white letters on the coloured circles are the score of the region of the bay (on a scale where A = very good, C = pass and D or E are below expectations). The coloured semi-circular bands indicate the score of water quality (left) and plankton (right). The overall score for the bay was a ‘C’, as is shown on the bottom left of the figure.
During the meeting, a pilot decision-support tool developed by the Centre was released - a Marine Health Report Card for Jiaozhou Bay, in the Shandongregion of eastern China. The report card was generated out of a need to present complex scientific information more effectively to regional managers and other stakeholders.

“The momentum we have already developed for the Centre with this report card is impressive and is a direct result of excellent collaboration between our scientists,” said Richard Brinkman, AIMS Program Leader. “We are very excited to be sharing this kind of innovation in an international setting.”

Jiaozhou Bay, adjacent to the city of Qingdao, is surrounded by a population of 9 million people and supports major shipping, aquaculture and industrial activities. The IOCAS-run Jiaozhou Bay Marine Ecosystem Research Station has conducted extensive water quality monitoring and plankton community monitoring in the Bay since 1999 to assess its overall health. However, data has primarily been delivered through technical reports in a form unlikely to be appreciated or accessed by local management and administrators.

In order to improve data delivery for management, IOCAS and AIMS scientists re-analysed the extensive data set using new analytical and presentation methods developed by AIMS researcher Murray Logan. These methods are used successfully in Australia for the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership and most recently in Darwin Harbour.

The resulting pilot Marine Health Report Card will now be further developed to include a broader range of environmental indicators available from the Jiaozhou Bay long-term data set.

Both China and Australia face similar challenges with regard to multi-zone coastal ecosystems, where industrialisation, tourism, agriculture and aquaculture place cumulative pressures on these environments. Established in July 2016 and formalised in December, the Centre brings together talented researchers from AIMS and IOCAS to explore and develop novel approaches to monitoring, models and research on ecological responses to pollution in these environments. The Centre aims to bridge the gap between science and management, producing decision-support tools to guide sustainable use and development on coastal ecosystems. 

IOCAS and AIMS researchers during the first joint science meeting of Sino-Australian Centre for Healthy Coasts, Qingdao, November 2016. Back Row: Dr DeZhou Yang; Dr HuaMao Yuan; Dr ChengGang Lin; Dr Terry Walshe; Dr Murray Logan; Dr Ziyuan Hu. Front Row: Prof Xiaoxia Sun, Dr Jessica Benthuysen; Dr Lyndon Llewellyn; Dr Richard Brinkman; Prof Sun Song; Dr Frederieke Kroon; Dr Tian Yan