The University of Western Australia is responding to the urgent need to protect the future of our Indian and Southern Oceans regions with today's launch of the UWA Oceans Institute.
The Oceans Institute brings together the strengths of the University's marine research programs in oceanography, ecology, engineering and resource management to allow for larger research projects that will influence future government, industry and community decisions.
Research will range from climate change predictions and the impact of climate change on marine habitats including Ningaloo Reef, subsea pipeline and rig foundation systems technology for the northwest shelf, the study of tides, winds and ocean currents and their influence on marine biodiversity, marine microbes and viruses, marine management and conservation.
The Institute will work closely with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, now co-housed on campus, to take on what have been identified as the five most significant broad-scale threats to marine biodiversity: climate change, resource use, land-based impacts, marine biosecurity and marine pollution.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the Oceans Institute will make it easier for industry, government and the community to access marine expertise and research services in WA.
"The University recognises the importance of the marine province and marine industries to WA's current and future economic development and conservation of biodiversity," Professor Robson said.
"The Oceans Institute will be vital to the economic future of the State and conservation of biodiversity and will contribute to the international understanding of the Indian Ocean Rim and Southern Ocean and WA's 13,000km of coastline."
The Oceans Institute comprises more than 80 UWA staff and postgraduate students including WA Premier's Fellows Professor Shaun Collin, whose work is helping improve the diet and growth of finfish for Australia's important aquaculture industry and our understanding of how sharks sense their environment, and Professor Malcolm McCulloch, whose research interest is on the impacts of climate, ocean acidification and environmental changes on living coral reefs.
Marine ecology is a particular strength emerging within the institute, linking industrial developments and resource extraction to changes in the distribution and abundance of fish, invertebrates, seaweeds and seagrass.
Acting Director of the Oceans Institute Professor Gary Kendrick described it as a major initiative to coordinate marine research essential to WA and the nation's future.
"None of us can do it alone," Professor Kendrick said. "Working together we will be able to manage our economic growth and other aspirations through ocean engineering, ocean science, management and conservation."
Western Australia has 40 per cent of the nation's coastline, and UWA has already boosted its research capacity through the campus-based Western Australian Marine Science Institution. It is also building partnerships with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO and other Federal and State Government bodies.