AU: New science hub to lower risk of human-shark encounters

Media Release

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment

28. October 2015


New $23.9 million science hub to focus on coastal and marine protection

Research designed to lower the risk of human-shark encounters and better understand the threats to marine species and their habitats will be carried out as part of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme.

Conducted by the Marine Biodiversity Hub based in Hobart, the research will take place in Australia’s temperate marine waters and lead to better management and protection of our coastal and marine environments.

Headed by Professor Nic Bax at the University of Tasmania and in partnership with research institutions from across Australia, scientists will develop a national population assessment of white sharks and look at initiatives to mitigate the risk of human-shark encounters.

White sharks are listed as Vulnerable under the EPBC Act yet there is still no effective way to assess their numbers.

The recent spate of shark attacks on the New South Wales coast highlights the need for better information on the status of shark populations to assist policy development for both conservation and public safety.

Whale conservation will also be a focus, with hub scientists assessing right whale subpopulations to determine trends and current numbers.

Closer to shore, research will support the repair and conservation efforts for two threatened nearshore marine ecological communities – shellfish reefs and saltmarshes.

Both habitats contain significant marine biodiversity and play a critical role in supporting healthy estuarine systems.

In addition, the hub will focus on marine pollution with the creation of a National Outfall Database to support cleaning up Australia’s coastline.

The National Environmental Science Programme’s Marine Biodiversity Hub will inform
monitoring and planning for coastal and marine species and ecosystems, as well as mapping and defining the impact of sewerage outfalls on Australia’s marine environment.

$23.88 million is being provided for the research – as part of the Australian Government’s $145 million National Environmental Science Programme.

The Australian Government is committed to integrating science into decision-making as a key principle of good environmental policy. The National Environmental Science Programme focuses on collaborative, practical and applied research that informs on-ground action. (…)

Source: Department of the Environment, Australia


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