The Australian Government, along with thirteen other ocean nations, recently announced their commitment to support the development of a sustainable ocean economy. To assist evaluating progress, Australia is supporting the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP), which supports capacity building, compilation and maintenance of ocean accounts, which combine social, economic, and environmental information towards decision making - To paraphrase Peter Drucker, you “can’t balance (improve) what you [don’t] measure”.

The accounts allow ocean nations to look at the bigger picture, (i.e. beyond single metrics like gross domestic product (GDP)). Australia recently completed its first pilot of an Ocean account in Geographe bay Marine Park, and is looking to advance ocean accounts both within Australia and internationally to support ocean decision making.

The Centre for Marine Science and Innovation (CMSI) has partnered with the GOAP to provide students the opportunity to contribute their expertise to this rapidly growing field. The following post-graduate researchers were successful in their application for an award, jointly funded by GOAP and CMSI:

Aaron Eger

Aaron is currently working on consolidating information about the best way to restore our underwater forests (kelp beds). For this project he is creating the world's first database of kelp restoration projects, analysing the efficacy of these projects. Following from this work, Aaron is calculating economic estimates of ecosystem services from kelp forests.

Kelp is a chronically understudied marine habitat and much remains unknown about Australian kelp beds. To help monitor kelp ecosystems and recognise their integral connection with society and the economy, Aaron is exploring how Ocean accounting can support decision making of this habitat.

Giulia Feretto

Giulia is a seagrass expert, working on using recent innovations in seagrass restoration to revegetate Posidonia australis. She also works to involve local communities to raise awareness about the social and ecological importance of seagrass and the impacts of traditional moorings on seagrass habitats.

Giulia is contributing to an international effort to compile and link the relationships between seagrass and its contribution to the economy, society and the wider ecosystem. She hopes to contribute knowledge on how to define these links in the Australian context.

Shan Zhang

Shan is working on understanding the complex symbioses within sponges, especially the ecology of host-associated microbial communities and the co-evolution process. By understanding the diversity of taxonomy and gene functions of marine microorganisms, Shan believes we can gain a better understanding of the marine environment, with applications to ocean activities including aquaculture and biotechnology.

She is hoping to write a technical note, linking the importance of model species and microbiology to environmental management and aspects of ocean decision making.