Gladstone fish disease cited for why more research is needed

THE nation's marine science institute has cited the Gladstone harbour fish disease outbreak and a lack of baseline data about the harbour as key reasons more scientific research is needed about the marine environment.

A submission from the Australian Institute of Marine Science to the Federal Government's Northern Australia inquiry has highlighted a lack of scientific data as hindering sustainable development.

The institute's comments reflect many comments made to the government's bund wall review panel about the lack of baseline data on the harbour available before the large dredging project began.

"The need for science-based information to support management and port operations was recently demonstrated in Gladstone harbour where the cause of a fish disease outbreak remains unknown," the submission said.

"Lack of suitable baseline data has greatly limited the capacity of the port or the scientific community to answer questions posed by the general public and port stakeholders."

To that end, the institute called for more investment in science to ensure the sustainable development of northern Australia, including areas like Gladstone.

In its submission, the institute wrote Australia's marine industries already added some $42 billion to the economy, chiefly through tourism, offshore oil and gas and onshore resources, agriculture and ports.

That figure, the submission said, was also predicted to grow to some $100 billion by 2025.

But a lack of scientific research on the sustainability of the northern marine environment was needed to ensure "long-term economic prosperity" and "vibrancy of local communities".

It suggested numerous "gaps that need to be addressed", including baseline data about the northern environments, research about the marine environment's response to change, and "marine observing systems".



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