What is the Kimberley worth?

With her 11-month old baby in tow, Dr Jennifer Strickland-Munro spent five months camping along the 13,000km stretch that marks the Kimberley coastline to find out exactly how people value the area and what their hopes are for its future.

The 2013 trek with her son, Samson and husband, Beau, from Darwin to Eighty Mile Beach, has culminated in the first report from the Values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Kimberley” research project funded by the Western Australian Government and administered by WAMSI.

In the first study of its kind to document the extent to which the region’s ~35,000 residents and many tourists value the Kimberley coast and marine environment, the results demonstrate that despite how hard it is to access some areas, there is nowhere that is considered without value.

Jennifer interviewing a Kimberley resident

“We interviewed 232 people in total that we met along the way, from a range of stakeholder groups,” Dr Strickland-Munro said. “This included Aboriginal Traditional Owners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents, people from recreational and commercial fishing interests, aquaculture, tourists and tour operators, marine transport, Federal, State and local government, environmental non-government organisations and a range of community groups like sea rescue clubs who are clearly out and about on the coast.”

“Analysis of interview data revealed that social values for the Kimberley coastline and marine environment are largely non-consumptive, direct uses. Values relating to the physical landscape (e.g. aesthetics, coastal geology, unique nature experiences, and the Kimberley’s ‘pristine untouched environment’) were dominant.

“Biodiversity, an indirect use value relating to the presence of key flora and fauna including marine animals, reef biodiversity, migratory shorebirds and mangroves, was also widely and intensely valued,” Dr Strickland-Munro said.

A broad suite of Aboriginal values also emerged, with the clear need to include Aboriginal people in decision making rating highly.

Jennifer and family camping in the Kimberley

The project is now moving into its next phase as it looks to extend and validate what has already been found. An online survey will be launched in early April. The survey uses Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) techniques in which people place markers onto a Google map interface to indicate where and what they value about the Kimberley coast, as well as their management preferences for the future.

For more information about the survey contact Jennifer at j.strickland-munro@murdoch.edu.au.

The results of the three year project will be available by the end of the year when the newly documented information will be able to be put into practice across planning for parks and wildlife, shires and industry to help better understand the suite of values and aspirations for the Kimberley coast.


[The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.]


Attached files:

PDF iconvalues_and_aspirations_for_coastal_waters_of_the_Kimberley.pdf


Kimberley Marine Research Program

Premier launches Blueprint for Marine Science

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution has welcomed the launch of the Blueprint for Marine Science 2050 as an important turning point to support future industry competitiveness and effective management of Western Australia’s marine environment and the Australian economy.

The Blueprint, launched today by WA Premier and Minister for Science Colin Barnett, identifies the key gaps in knowledge that could provide the information needed to improve productivity and deliver sustainable growth in development off Australia’s western coast.

“Industry and government managers have identified that these information gaps need to be bridged through collaborative efforts over the coming decades,” WAMSI CEO Patrick Seares said. “This Blueprint represents a clear way forward for all those involved in our marine environment.”

The Blueprint outlines:

  • Sector Specific Knowledge Needs – more than 100 sector specific knowledge gaps.
  • Baseline Research – priority research.
  • Issue Programs – areas where investigation is needed in the near future for major decisions.
  • Enabling Programs – opportunities for improvement.

At the WAMSI research conference WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken described the Blueprint as the culmination of, “a process that has been very rigorous and extremely impressive.”

Australia’s Blue Economy will inject $100 billion to the national economy over the coming decades. Activities such as the nation-building oil and gas industry, rapidly increasing shipping in the northwest, ambitions for expanded sustainable fisheries, the expansion of coastal and deep water marine reserves, rapid coastal development in the southwest as well as expanding regional port infrastructure are all effecting WA’s marine environment.

The Blueprint recommendations are the culmination of comprehensive consultation focusing on the end users of research from business, industry, government and community groups brought together by an independent steering group led by renowned scientist Emeritus Professor Alistar Robertson.

Link to The Blueprint or Marine Science 2050

Link to Premier’s media statement 



Industry and science focus on WA marine research

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

Industry and marine research leaders presented the latest issues and findings affecting the future of Western Australian marine environment at the WAMSI research conference 2015 (Monday 30 March-1 April) launched by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Minister for State Development and Science, Hon. Donna Faragher MLC.

Among the keynote speakers;

  • Paul Vogel (EPA Chairman) – Science, knowledge and managing risk through environmental impact assessment;
  • Shaun Gregory (Woodside Energy, Senior Vice President Science and Technology) – An industry perspective on strategic marine science;
  • Michael Marnane (Chevron) – Applying lessons learnt from Gorgon to the Chevron Wheatstone dredging program;
  • Wayne Young (Pilbara Ports Authority) – Ports perspective of dredging in the Pilbara;
  • Tom Hatton (Marine Parks and Reserves Authority of Western Australia) – The future of WA’s Kimberley Marine Parks
  • Brett Moloney (Department of Fisheries WA) – With a new Fisheries Act likely, the needs of management for robust and timely research.
  • Peter Klinken (WA Chief Scientist) – WA’s research focus; and
  • Patrick Seares (WAMSI CEO) An overview of research progress, future direction and initiatives to improve collaboration on information.

    Over the course of the three day conference, lead researchers and industry representatives who are working on WAMSI’s 50 research projects under the Kimberley Marine Research Program and the Dredging Science Node also provided latest updates on their research.

Link to full schedule, abstracts and audio of presentations 

Link to Premier’s media statement