A lone seagrass champion from Albany has been recognised for his efforts in seagrass restoration and community collaboration at The University of Western Australia Oceans Institute's community event over the weekend.
Geoff Bastyan was awarded the 2014 Southseas Oceans Hero Award at Oceans Community 2014 for his dedication to the study and restoration of seagrass in Western Australia. Yet, his home territory is where he has made his mark as an ‘Oceans Hero', pioneering the successful transplantation of seagrass in badly degraded environments within Oyster Harbour in Albany.
Working alone over several years, Geoff conclusively demonstrated that seagrass could be returned to degraded habitat. He then contributed his knowledge and passion to the local community, teaching high-school students how to transplant seagrass. This motivated the local community to play an active role in helping to repair Oyster Harbour's marine environment.
Geoff developed a program to monitor seagrass and fish as part of Great Southern Grammar School's science curriculum, which was adopted by other local schools.
He has also proven to be an enthusiastic teacher, supporting the field and laboratory work of a core unit in UWA's Marine Science Degree (Field Techniques in Marine Science) at Albany over the past 20 years.
Southseas Abalone Limited, a premium Australian aquaculture company and an international leader in sustainable abalone aquaculture, sponsor the Southseas Oceans Hero Award. The award was established by the UWA Oceans Institute and Southseas Abalone to recognise the achievements of individuals and community groups in promoting the stewardship, understanding and conservation of the ocean. Geoff was presented with a cheque for $5000 as recognition of the value he brings to seagrass restoration in WA and to support the expansion and monitoring of long-term seagrass transplant projects in Albany.
"This award was completely unexpected," Geoff said. "How will it be put to use? My head has been full of exciting plans for new innovations in seagrass restoration but I couldn't see how to put them into action without some support.
"Building on my earlier years of experience in seagrass transplanting, the award will make it possible for me to extend restoration into more difficult environments, as well as expanding our knowledge of the unique seagrasses that inhabit these environments."
UWA Oceans Institute Director, Professor Carlos Duarte said the seagrass restoration project Geoff initiated, with his own time and resources, has grown to be the most successful seagrass restoration project anywhere in the world.
"Geoff's tenacity, determination and appreciation for scientific advice are the key to his success," Professor Duarte said. "His achievement is of global, not only state or national, significance, and an example to all."