WAMSI Bulletin September 2018

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WAMSI joins early adopters on government open data portal

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution has posted more than 130 data records making it the fourth biggest contributor to the WA Government’s open data portal.

The records span 12 years of research covering the Kimberley marine environment, Ningaloo, dredging science, climate change, fisheries, marine ecosystems and oceanography. 

The Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) Data Manager Luke Edwards said the collection maximises the State Government’s investment in marine science and makes a significant contribution to information gathered about the Western Australian marine environment.

“Having WAMSI data available via the State Government Open Data portal, along with the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN), makes sense as it increases its discoverability and therefore opportunities for various parties to reuse the data,” Mr Edwards said. “More data will become accessible after embargo periods for some WAMSI projects are lifted in 2019.”

WAMSI CEO Dr Luke Twomey said data consolidation, synthesis and access had been identified among the top priorities for marine science in WAMSI’s  Blueprint for Marine Science 2050.

“WAMSI is looking at how to remove the barriers to enable greater marine data sharing,” Dr Twomey said. “By understanding the value of the data we can work to convince users to move toward the standardisation and interoperability that is essential for the data economy.

“We’ve made some good progress so far and there is definitely an appetite for it amongst the users, but we have a long way to go,” Dr Twomey said. “This is a huge task and at some stage the marine science collective is going to have to address the elephant in the room.”

To browse the available WAMSI records visit –https://catalogue.data.wa.gov.au/organization/western-australian-marine-science-institution

If you have questions please contact Luke Edwards (luke.edwards@pawsey.org.au)

Growing movement to highlight Shark Bay climate risks

Researchers are calling for an urgent response to mitigate the threats to the Shark Bay World Heritage site from the effects of a changing climate.

The results from a workshop, including 70 science and industry experts, has identified a critical need for management actions to prepare and respond to events like the 2010-11 marine heatwave that devastated seagrasses in the area.

Shark Bay is unique globally for its natural values, including stromatolites, extensive seagrasses that have constructed sills and banks over thousands of years resulting in restricted exchange with the ocean, unique and abundant marine megafauna, including one-eighth of the world’s population of dugongs, large populations of sharks and turtles, and one of the longest studied populations of dolphins in the world.

The loss of 23 per cent of seagrass cover in the bay (860 km2), as a result of the marine heatwave of 2010-2011, had a flow on effect to mega herbivores, fish, tourism and the aquaculture and fisheries dependent of the ecosystem. Events such as marine heatwaves are predicted to increase with global warming.

The workshop, held at Perth’s Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre in June, identified gaps in knowledge needed to support management of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site. It listed actions to bridge the gaps in knowledge and formed a list of suggestions on how best to proceed.

Workshop organiser Professor Gary Kendrick, from The University of Western Australia, said the actions outlined by the group were consistent.

“Overall, it is clear we need to establish a shared vision for a collaborative approach to address the priority areas to support integrated management decisions,” Professor Kendrick said.

Western Australian Marine Science Institution CEO Dr Luke Twomey supported the group’s suggestion to assess the social and economic benefits and priorities of fishing and tourism.

“For this process to have real impact, we need a better understanding of the stakeholder needs to identify the most socially and economically important aspects of this World Heritage site,” Dr Twomey said. “Once we’ve narrowed down the focus, we can develop the science plan needed to fill those gaps in knowledge that will support sustainable management and use of the region.”

“Most importantly we need to make sure that the research can be transferred into outcomes of economic, environmental and social benefit,” Dr Twomey said.

The outcomes of the June workshop will be fed in to a broader climate change workshop being held in Denham (17-19 September) to determine how susceptible the World Heritage site is to climate change, and if anything can be done to manage the effects.

The September workshop, organised by the Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee and hosted by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, aims to develop a vulnerability index that will lead to a climate change adaptation plan.

Long serving WAMSI staffer calls it a day

After more than ten years of dedicated professional service to the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI), Business Manager and Executive Secretary to the Governing Board Linda McGowan farewelled WAMSI to start a new chapter in her life with family.

Linda’s time with WAMSI began in 2008 after the state government invested $21million to maintain and grow Western Australia’s marine science capability and capacity off the back of a recommendation by the Strategic Research Fund for the Marine Environment, a joint venture with CSIRO led by Dr John Keesing (SRFME CEO 2001-2006).

Under the Chairmanship of the former Director General for Fisheries, Dr Peter Rogers (WAMSI Chair 2007-2013), Linda managed the financial, legal and administrative operations for one of the biggest  government, industry and academic joint venture success stories.

“Linda was terrific to work with, very professional and a kindred spirit, always smiling and helpful, a true asset in a collaboration that’s had to forge a path between the many competing interests in a dynamic environment,” Dr Rogers said. “Her diligence on the financial accounts meant there was never any audit issues.”   

After a decade of providing a steady hand at the tiller for two rounds of multimillion dollar programs under the changing captainship of three CEOs, three Chairs and a group of more than 100 researchers, Linda has played a major role in the success of WAMSI. 

WAMSI’s contribution to the understanding of the WA marine environment includes one of the biggest single issue marine research programs, the $20million Dredging Science Node, that has become an international reference for environmental benchmarks in the global dredging industry that’s forecast to be worth $22,840 million in the year 2022.

“I think getting the legal agreements right is the biggest challenge in a collaboration like this,” Linda said. “You can spend an inordinate amount of time and money on this process to get the framework established. And the reward is knowing that the results are being used to make better management decisions.”

As WAMSI moves into its next phase of operation, to implement the marine science priorities identified in the Blueprint for Marine Science 2050, WAMSI CEO Luke Twomey says the joint venture is in a good position as a science collaboration with runs on the board.   

“On behalf of the partners, the researchers and staff I’d like to thank Linda for her invaluable contribution to WAMSI and wish her all the best in her future endeavours,” WAMSI CEO Dr Luke Twomey said.