Waypoint Spring 2015

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Growing and protecting our blue economy: AIMS at the helm

Growing and protecting our blue economy: AIMS at the helm


A blue economy is one which strikes the right balance between reaping the economic potential of our oceans with the need to safeguard their longer term health. Credit: NMSP 2015

Last decade, Australia’s ‘blue’ economy – tourism, shipping, oil and gas, aquaculture and fishing – doubled to contribute $47 billion to our economy.

And it’s growing 3 times as fast as our GDP. Now, AIMS is leading the work of the marine science critical to supporting this economy into the future.

Launched in August, the new 10-year National Marine Science Plan (4:58, video) outlines how coordinated research can support Australia’s marine challenges to balance growth and protection.

Not only part of our cultural identity and heritage, the national asset of our oceans are key to vast economic and environmental wealth, now and into the future.

Australia is responsible for the earth’s third-largest marine area: its oceans, seas, seabed, coasts, close catchments, traditional sea country and the resources within. It’s an area more than 5 times larger than Western Australia.

Accordingly, the comprehensive national plan brings together the expertise of over 500 people and more than 23 marine research organisations, universities and government departments, to see how to effectively prioritise future marine science efforts.

CEO of AIMS and chair of the National Marine Science Committee John Gunn says it’s important to consolidate these efforts, to meet the greatest challenges in the marine environment for the benefit of Australia.

“AIMS senior researchers and staff have contributed strongly toward many aspects of the plan’s development and will continue to work with our partners in marine science, government, industry and the community toward delivering on the plan’s recommendations,” Mr Gunn said.

The Hon Ian Macfarlane, then Minister for Industry and Science, emphasised that the plan is about making sure that our blue economy develops sustainably, to “ensure our ocean ecosystems bring economic, cultural and social benefits for all Australians."

Addressing marine development and sustainability challenges, Mr Macfarlane said, requires correct decisions now to secure benefits in the future.

Seven significant challenges face our blue economy: urban coastal environments; energy security; food security; climate variability and change; biodiversity, conservation and ecosystem health; marine sovereignty, security and safety; and resource allocation.

However, Australia’s premier marine science institutions – including AIMS – now have the 10-year plan to:

  • guide Australia’s marine and science efforts
  • help maximise value, and
  • manage the growth of marine industries.

“Realising the Plan’s recommendations will help us to build and operate essential research infrastructure, form collaborative science and research centres for priority interdisciplinary science and support the next generation of marine science graduates,” Mr Gunn said.

The event was held at Parliament House on 11 August 2015, launched by the National Marine Science Committee (PDF) and addressed by its chair John Gunn (PDF). You can read the plan online (PDF).