The NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub, a forerunner of the Marine and Coastal Hub, developed and progressed the adoption of nine national standards for marine survey design and sampling. (Field manuals for marine sampling to monitor Australian waters.)

These standards allow the comparison of marine data collected over time and across areas and sectors. They are critical to the effective assessment and management of Australia’s marine estate and have been adopted at state, Commonwealth, and international levels: thereby becoming true best practices. Despite their importance, the existing standards represent a fraction of those required to meet national needs, and with no long-term governance arrangement in place, they run the risk of becoming outdated.

This project aims to advance the establishment and use of national standards and best practices to monitor the condition status of priority values and pressures of Australia’s marine estate. It will do this by updating the existing national standards and developing new standards and manuals – for drop cameras, socioeconomic surveys of marine users, and marine microplastics –according to an internationally recognised process for developing best practices.


An implementation plan will be developed to demonstrate, promote and evaluate the use of the best practices by research-users, including through community groups and Indigenous partnerships. The plan will include an update on the national uptake and impact of the best practices, and recommendations for governance, maintenance and future manuals.

The project team will review national priorities identified in Marine and Coastal Hub scoping studies, and conduct a workshop and questionnaire to gauge the needs of the scientists, Indigenous communities, and managers of the marine environment. This includes Parks Australia and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Project update, April 2023

Project leader Dr Rachel Przeslawski and her colleagues have published a paper in Frontiers of Marine Science. ‘Developing an ocean best practice: A case study of marine sampling practices from Australia’, describes a three-phase process required to achieve best practice: 1) scope and recruit, 2) develop and release, 3) revise and ratify. Each phase includes two to three steps and associated actions supported by the Ocean Best Practices System. While this process requires planning and effort, it optimises the chance to develop a true best practice and has many other benefits.

The three phases and associated steps required to develop an ocean best practice. Each step is linked to icons showing the relevant part of the Ocean Best Practices System that provide support.

Expected outcomes

The project is expected to:

  • contribute to an improved information flow from survey through to management decision for the task of assessing condition status of key natural values and pressures;
  • facilitate stronger and more general inferences about ecological processes, based on consistent sampling methodology;
  • aid the cost-effective sampling of Australia’s marine environment, even when sampling is performed by different institutions at different times; and
  • provide a reference point for regulatory and management agencies responsible for monitoring the trend and status of communities and individual species.

Project location