Marine and Coastal Hub projects connect people and knowledge to promote decision-making that considers natural, economic, social and cultural values of the marine environment. They support ecosystem restoration and protection, sustainable use, protected places, and threatened and migratory species and ecological communities. Where possible they seek to embrace Indigenous knowledge and partnerships.

Ecosystem restoration and protection

Australia’s seagrass meadows, coral and shellfish reefs, coastal wetlands, and mangrove and kelp forests promote resilient, productive coastal and marine environments. They protect shorelines, improve water quality, nurture biodiversity and fisheries, and hold cultural and social values, supporting people and the economy. Many of these ecological systems have been lost or degraded, and face ongoing threats from human activities and climate extremes. Some are listed as locally or nationally endangered, and managers and practitioners need help to connect, refine and upscale conservation and restoration activities. Hub research is mapping focus areas, defining ecosystem services and threats, and identifying research needs and practical solutions. This ranges from accounting frameworks and local reparation techniques to strategies for coordinated and cost-effective regional and national-scale investment.

People and sustainable use

Marine and coastal environments bring social, cultural and economic benefits to the Australian community. Preserving these benefits while supporting new enterprises requires understanding and managing the environmental impacts of human activities. This hub research is tackling some of the barriers to sustainable development, with a focus on regional planning in northern regions and offshore wind energy in southern Australia. We’re bringing together data holders and research-users to optimise and expand knowledge about important species, habitats and impacts, and fostering collaborative approaches to research and planning.

Protected places

Australia’s extensive network of marine and coastal protected places includes Australian Marine Parks, Ramsar sites, World Heritage Areas, the National Reserve System and Indigenous Protected Areas. Scientific understanding and collaboration are needed to continually improve the care and management of these unique and valuable places. Managers such as Traditional Owner groups, national and state and regional agencies also need research strategies that align with environmental, economic, social and cultural goals. The hub is engaging research-users, knowledge brokers and Indigenous facilitators to better coordinate research for protected places. Priorities are to consolidate and expand regional knowledge of coastal biodiversity and ecosystems, define standard research and monitoring approaches, and develop tools to evaluate management success

Threatened and migratory species and ecological communities

Australian governments have legal obligations to promote the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities. They assess nominations for threatened category listings, develop and monitor recovery actions, identify important habitats, and set policies to regulate development. This requires timely scientific advice on the status of populations and communities, the threats they face, are how these are changing. The hub provides this advice for selected threatened and migratory marine species and ecological communities. Our projects bring people together to consolidate and provide access to available knowledge, identify research needs, and collect data through surveys, tagging, mapping, citizen science and experimentation. We advise on the movements, distribution, connectivity and status of populations, and develop restoration strategies and techniques for ecological communities.

Indigenous knowledge and partnerships

Indigenous ecological knowledge and participation is fundamental to the sustainable management of Australia’s marine and coastal environment. The Marine and Coastal Hub is committed to including opportunities for the participation of Traditional Owners within projects where achievable, and this participation is expanding as new projects are established. The hub’s Indigenous partnerships strategy outlines our approach to two-way engagement relationships that recognise, respect and incorporate the interests, rights and Indigenous ecological knowledge of Traditional Owners. Research in this area strives to build knowledge, skills and experience that will give individuals, communities, and industries a greater capacity to manage and benefit from Country, from the seagrasses of Tasmania to the wetlands of Kakadu.