International group to lead coastal research
Oct 3, 2013: - A gathering of leading international researchers is meeting at James Cook University in Townsville this week to form a new group to work on estuary and tidal wetland ecosystems.
JCU’s Associate Professor Marcus Sheaves says that they are forming a consortium to use their diverse research interests in order to produce a quantum increase in the knowledge of these critical but poorly understood ecosystems.
This consortium is an initiative of JCU’s Tropical Water and Aquatic Research Centre – TropWATER.
“Although much of Australia’s population lives around our estuaries, tidal wetlands and other coastal ecosystems, they have received relatively little research,” Associate Professor Sheaves said.
“This is a real concern because, not only are these the areas where we love to fish and play and the places much of our seafood comes from, but they are the places that are faced with the greatest pressure from burgeoning urban areas and industrial development.
“Without extensive knowledge we just don’t know how these fragile ecosystems will react to human pressures,” he said.
Not only do estuaries and coastal wetlands include some of Australia’s most important natural resources like Kakadu National Park and Hinchinbrook Channel, but their ecosystems also form a buffer zone between the land and assets of international importance like the Great Barrier Reef.
The scientists involved in this new group are already doing cutting edge research around the country ranging from nursery ground value to remediation of fisheries habitats.
“The new consortium provides the opportunity to coordinate these efforts,” Associate Professor Marcus Sheaves said.
“We need to get key researchers really working together if we are to have really relevant research outcomes.”
TropWATER’s Dr. Ron Baker said “This is our chance to really focus on the key issues so that we can enjoy our coasts and estuaries for many years to come.”
Contact: Associate Professor Marcus Sheaves 07 4781 4144 or 0417 200 886
JCU MEDIA: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449
Issued: October 3, 2013