How marine science drives the blue economy

Marine science creates the data, knowledge, technology and innovation that drive the blue economy's development and growth. These blue-economy essentials help governments, industries and communities make informed decisions, plan, invest, build resilience, mitigate risk and be future ready.

The NMSC has created a decadal science plan that will guide the development of essential data, knowledge, tools and initiatives. These will help realise the blue economy's potential of $100 billion per annum by 2025.

The plan harnesses the multidisciplinary expertise of our community. It includes the National Marine Science Plan 2015-2025 and its review and update, the National Marine Science Plan 2015-2025: The Midway Point.

To learn more, listen to our recent spotlight on the value of marine science to the Australian economy.

How marine science drives blue economy

Towards 2025: a vision in blue

The marine science community will help Australia realise the triple-bottom-line benefits of our marine estate while protecting the values and natural assets we all hold so dearly. So, what will 2025 look like when the National Marine Science Plan is delivered?

1. Australia’s blue economy will reach its $100 billion per annum growth potential. Ocean ecosystem services will be maintained.

Australia’s diverse portfolio of existing and emerging marine industries will drive this growth in response to evolving economic, social and environmental conditions.

This growth will be supported by developments such as:

  • the expansion of ocean renewable energy resources (wind, wave and tide) using innovative new technologies
  • the realisation of marine biotechnology potential, including the culture of micro and macro marine organisms for biofuels, bioremediation and bioproducts
  • the growth of green engineering, ecological restoration and other innovative methods for preventing environmental damage
  • the identification, ranking and development of offshore geological basins for oil and gas potential, and CO2 storage
  • increased market value of fisheries through sustainable harvest practices
  • the doubling of aquaculture value through the development of new sectors, the growth of existing ones through new breed, feed and disease management, and the export of intellectual property to the global market
  • the sustainable development of northern Australia based on better marine system understanding and baselines
  • long-term sustainability of Australia’s marine world heritage and growth in tourism, one of our largest and most valuable marine industries.
2. Decision-making by governments, non-government organisations and industries will be efficient, effective and more likely to be built around consensus.

This will be based on greatly improved, openly available data, as well as better understanding of the cumulative impacts of development, climate change and socioeconomic factors on marine ecosystems.

Our decision-support tools will deal explicitly with uncertainty and enable evaluation of trade-offs between multiple uses. We will also determine the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors and inform community debate regarding ‘social licence to operate’.

This will:

  • increase administrative efficiency and speed in regulatory decision-making
  • increase marine management coherence across the Commonwealth and states
  • increase certainty and competitiveness and reduce costs for industry and governments
  • reduce the likelihood that decisions are contested, through improved transparency
  • reduce environmental risk
  • increase sustainability.
3. Iconic systems, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef and Antarctica, and multiple-use systems, such as marine parks, key estuaries and the urban coastal ribbon will enjoy long-term health and sustainable use.

Enhanced scientific information and improved environmental management performance will support this development.

Robust and fit-for-purpose long-term monitoring programs on urban and agricultural catchments, sewage outfalls, ports, coastal development and marine protected areas will provide an evidence base for evaluating the performance of environmental regulations and conditions and effective adaptive management.

These will reduce the risks of environmental damage and provide early warning when ecosystems become severely degraded or near tipping point, and thus reduce the huge costs associated with remediation.

4. We will increase operational safety, reduce costs and improve planning decisions of marine industries through enhanced prediction of ocean currents, sea state and ocean health.

The next generations of models will improve estimates and management of:

  • oil spill and pollutant dispersion
  • dredge spoil movement
  • impacts of sediments, nutrients and chemicals from agricultural run-off
  • coastal fisheries and aquaculture
  • ocean productivity and health.

Improved estimates of wind, current and wave fields will also benefit:

  • recreational boating
  • the shipping industry
  • search-and-rescue operators
  • the Australian Defence Force (ADF)
  • the offshore engineering industry, which can reduce costs incurred by over-engineering platforms and sub-sea structures.
5. Industries and governments will reduce disaster risk associated with extreme events and sea level rise through greatly improved information and intelligence on the oceans, climate variability and change.

Improved ocean observations, climate systems modelling and climate adaptation strategies will benefit every Australian. They will also benefit many different industry sectors, such as insurance, energy, water, infrastructure and health.

Other examples include:

  • the agriculture, fishing and aquaculture sectors, which will benefit from improved understanding and prediction of ocean-driven climate and weather processes
  • local, state and Commonwealth governments, which will benefit from studies of ocean warming and Antarctic ice dynamics and improved estimates of sea level rise, allowing them to more effectively prepare for rising sea level impacts
  • managers of infrastructure, fisheries and marine parks, aquaculture producers, and the tourism industry, who will benefit from improved estimation of warming trends and impacts, allowing them to plan and adapt their businesses to new states.
6. We will discover potential new hydrocarbon reserves, seabed mineral deposits, bioproducts, fisheries and other biological resources, along with hundreds of new species, habitats and ecosystems.

We will do this by doubling the proportion of our marine estate that has been multi-beam swathe mapped — to 50 per cent. And by conducting multidisciplinary baseline surveys.

New observing and monitoring technologies will extend our exploration and monitoring capability, and reduce the cost-per-data point.

By building a comprehensive knowledge of our marine estate, we will also demonstrate a national commitment to use and manage our marine assets. This will help us meet under international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

7. End users in the public, industry and community sectors will increasingly work together with the marine science community as part of major collaborative programs.

These programs will address national priority needs, enhance international relations and build marine science’s reputation for ‘walking the talk’ in aligning our research to improved triple-bottom-line benefits.

This includes increased emphasis on and investment in:

  • joint research projects
  • marine science graduates with capabilities required by industry
  • joint supervision of postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows across universities, publicly funded research organisations and industry research groups
  • shared access to research vessels and major experimental facilities
  • increased accessibility to data, regardless of who paid
    for their collection.

Australia's marine science sovereign capability

Since 2015, Australia has been building its national marine science capability through a range of major plans, programs, reports, infrastructure and investments.

Australian marine science sovereign capability since 2015

NMSC Chair and Deputy

Chair: Toni Moate, Director of National Facilities and Collections, CSIRO

Deputy Chair: Kim Picard, Chair of the AusSeabed Steering Committee, Geoscience Australia  

NMSC secretariat

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