Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts home page

About us | Contact us | Publications

header imagesheader imagesheader images

Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Australia's report to the UNCSD - 1996

Implementation of Agenda 21
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1996
ISBN 0 6422 4868 0

Case Study - Information

Oceans related research and data management

Sound management of the marine environment requires that managers and other people with an interest in the marine environment have access to diverse types of information, including social, cultural, economic, ecological, biophysical and geophysical information. Inquiries into management of marine and coastal environments in Australia have repeatedly found that there are serious deficiencies in the data available for sustainable management of these resources and that existing information is fragmented and often not accessible to those who could use it to inform their decisions about the use, development and conservation of the marine and coastal environments. Australia recognises that these deficiencies must be remedied if coastal zone resources are to be effectively and efficiently managed.

Australian Governments, researchers and coastal managers are in broad agreement about the need to enhance information systems and improve access to information. The Australian Government is committed to extensive research and monitoring of the marine environment and has established a number of institutions and programs to increase the availability and co-ordination of information related to management of the marine and coastal environments.

The Australian Government is already a significant provider of research into aspects of the marine environment. Agencies such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO), the Australian Oceanographic Data Centre (AODC), the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service (RANHS), the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), the Bureau of Resource Sciences (BRS), the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), the National Resource Information Centre (NRIC), the Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA), the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the National Tidal Facility (NTF) and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) make important contributions to our understanding of coastal and marine environments. The Commonwealth Government also supports research conducted by universities and other tertiary institutions. Funding is provided through grants from the Australian Research Council; in 1992, 4.4 per cent of the total grants disbursed by the council were directed towards marine and coastal research.

These research agencies are undertaking a wide variety of research relevant to sustainable management of the marine and coastal environments. The Australian Hydrographic Service, for example, is one of a number of agencies contributing data to the national spatial data infrastructure and the national Coastal Atlas. Efforts are being made to improve knowledge of and access to these fundamental data of the topography of the sea bed, which are of great value to scientists, engineers, modellers, and administrators who are interested in shelf and marine processes and sustainable development of marine areas. New survey technologies such as the Laser Airborne Depth Sounder are providing data of outstanding quality and resolution in areas inaccessible to ships. Progress in information technology is making these data more conveniently accessible to a wide spectrum of new users.

Many research activities are carried out under the auspices of the World Climate Research Program's Climate Variability and Predictability Program which includes the World Ocean Circulation Experiment. The CSIRO Division of Oceanography, the Bureau of Meteorology and several universities (for example Flinders University in South Australia) are engaged in observational and modelling studies aimed at improving our understanding of the characteristics and behaviour of the marine environment. Greenhouse modelling for climatic research, using coupled ocean-atmosphere models, is being introduced at a number of government institutions and universities.

Antarctic scientific research also contributes to our understanding of the global environment. Current work includes programs on sea ice (drift, concentration and extent), biological aspects, physical oceanography and modelling. Research is also underway within the Australian Antarctic research community to investigate the impact of ultra violet radiation on marine plankton and the potential feedback to the climate system.

Australia is also supporting research into marine and coastal management in international fora, for example the Coastal Zone Environmental and Resource Management Project, a four year activity under the AusAID funded ASEAN-Australia Economic Cooperation program (AAECP) The objectives of this project are to support sustainable development of the coastal zone by enhancing national and regional management capacity and supporting infrastructure; to derive maximum development benefit from data generated at all levels on the biophysical and socio-economic environments through its being made more widely available, and, to facilitate the more efficient transfer of data and information from data collection and storage agencies (universities and government agencies) to resource and environment managers (policy and decision-makers).

The major focus of the project is the development of institutional, human resource and technological capabilities to integrate data for management requirements and the decision making process. The project is managed by Australian Marine Science and Technology Ltd (AMSAT), a consortium of Australia's federally funded marine research and development agencies. It draws on the particular technologies and skills of its conservation members, particularly the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for coastal zone management experience and expertise, and the National Resource Information Centre for information technology development and applications.