Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett said the $19 million WAMSI Dredging Science program was helping better understand the effect of dredging on the marine environment, and would identify better approaches to assessing and managing the impact of future dredging operations.
“There are millions of cubic metres of dredging needed to support our economy. But because we don’t know the full impact of dredging, we have to take quite a precautionary approach when setting conditions on companies to have confidence the environment is protected,” Mr Barnett said.
“This leads to perhaps unnecessarily complex monitoring and management programs. The research to be shown at the WAMSI Conference will help reduce uncertainty and better protect our marine environment, as well as reduce any unnecessary management burdens on industry.”
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said this dredging research was an excellent collaboration among industry and science providers to address knowledge gaps in managing environmental impacts. The dredging science program combines $9.5 million in industry funds from Chevron, Woodside and BHP Billiton, with over $9.5 million co-investment from the WAMSI partners.
“This collaborative approach and sharing of data among industry, enables a scale of research that will have dramatic effect on reducing uncertainties in environmental impact and management,” he said.
The $30 million WAMSI Kimberley Marine Research Program is an important part of the State Government’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy which has seen three major marine parks designated for the Kimberley.
Mr Jacob said this research would provide a scientific basis for marine park planning and management.
The Minister said the sheer scale of the Kimberley, and the fact that little was known of this remote region meant that large scale research was necessary to deliver the first regional baseline understanding of this important wilderness area.
The State Government contributed $12 million to the Kimberley research program against which WAMSI partners co-invested to create a $30 million program.
The Premier said he was pleased that the WAMSI model, sponsored by successive State Governments, continued a successful large-scale collaboration to deliver co-ordinated marine research for Western Australia.
“The Kimberley Marine Research Program alone includes more than 100 researchers from nine different organisations and has drawn almost $20 million in co-investment,” he said.
The conference includes more than 60 presentations from researchers and invited speakers and is running at the State Library of Western Australia from March 30 to April 1, 2015.