[ASC-media] AIMS contracted for baseline environmental study of WA's Scott Reef

Wendy Ellery w.ellery at aims.gov.au
Thu Apr 10 00:27:00 CEST 2008

10 April 2008

AIMS contracted for baseline environmental study of WA's Scott Reef

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) will undertake a
baseline environmental study of Scott Reef, off Western Australia's
Kimberley coast about 430 kilometres north of Broome. The project is
funded by Woodside Energy on behalf of the Browse Joint Venture.

The study, which will cost at least $25 million over four years, will
provide a comprehensive understanding of biodiversity, oceanography and
ecosystems on and around Scott Reef.

The contract will be announced today (Thursday 10 April) by the Federal
Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research, Senator Kim

AIMS CEO Dr Ian Poiner said that this project was an excellent
opportunity to greatly improve scientific understanding of Scott Reef, a
remote atoll system in the Timor Sea region, on the edge of Australia's
continental shelf and also within WA's state jurisdiction.

"Australia is largely a marine nation and our coast and oceans
contribute enormously to our identity and wealth," Dr Poiner said.
"Despite this, much of Australia's ocean territory remains unexplored
and poorly understood and this is especially true for northern and
north-west Australia," he said.

Our marine ecosystems face a number of real and imminent challenges
including the impacts of global warming due to enhanced greenhouse
effect. Marine environmental issues associated with coastal and offshore
development require independent scientific advice to help inform policy,
management and industry decisions.

"AIMS' role will be to provide scientific investigation, analysis and
examination of the Scott Reef environment," Dr Poiner said.

"This will involve the development of associated research methods,
protocols and equipment," he said.

The project will allow AIMS to do what it does best: investigating
Australia's marine resources in the national interest.

There will be three main scientific projects:  understanding shallow
water coral and fish communities; understanding deep-water coral and
fish communities (30-70 metres); and studying the physical and
biological oceanography of the area.

The first project will describe the coral and fish communities in a
range of shallow Scott Reef habitats and show changes over time.  It
will collect data on the recruitment, growth and survival of coral
colonies to predict their recovery from disturbance, as well as showing
the flow of genes between fish populations.

The second project will map and monitor coral communities in South Scott
Reef Lagoon, collect data on how corals function and survive  in the
deeper water and describe the fish life of the area and place it into a
regional context.

The third project will assemble baseline data on the ocean ecosystem of
South Scott Reef Lagoon, particularly how nutrients move through the
system.  It will also provide models of the dynamics of the
physio-chemical oceanographic processes, linked to patterns of
biodiversity that are observed in the biological studies.
Interviews will be available from 9.50am to 10.15am on Thursday 10 April
at the University Club, University of Western Australia.  Formal
speeches will follow.  The speakers will be the Minister for Industry,
Innovation, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, the CEO of AIMS Dr
Ian Poiner, and Dr Vanessa Guthrie (Vice President Sustainable
Development) from Woodside Energy.
For further information, please contact:
Dr Ian Poiner,
Ph: 0419 702 652; E-mail: i.poiner at aims.gov.au

Ms Wendy Ellery, AIMS Media Liaison, Townsville
Ph: 07 4753 4409 or 0418 729 265; E-mail: w.ellery at aims.gov.au

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