Project number: 2011-040
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $549,240.00
Principal Investigator: Marcus Sheaves
Organisation: James Cook University (JCU)
Project start/end date: 8 Jan 2012 - 29 Dec 2013


Global issues require partnerships and concerted action. A partnership is in place across key agencies (DCC&EE, FRDC, NCCARF, DAFF and State/Territory) to assess adaptation strategies for marine biodiversity and fisheries, but there is no national program to set directions for adaptation strategies for highly vulnerable Estuarine and Nearshore Environments (E&NEs). This gap is highlighted with neither NCCARF-ARNs for Marine or Freshwater addressing issues for E&NEs, as recognised in the Key Elements of the Scoping Brief.

E&NEs are critical transition zones between terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, providing key ecosystem functions (e.g. nutrient exchange and cycling) and associated services (e.g. nursery ground provision). Impacts of sea-level rise, altered hydrology and increasing temperatures will be compounded through interactions with human structures and management interventions. Consequently, there is a strong need to assess the relative importance of Climate Change impacts versus those associated with other pressures, and to identify priorities and strategies for adaptation that support clear and consistent goal setting by policy and management agencies. DCC&EE-FRDC have identified the need to build on the large body of ecological and Climate Change impact work, and focus on developing a suite of strategies to support the adaptive management of biodiversity and fisheries/aquaculture values in E&NEs.

This proposal also addresses:
a) NARP Priority Research Questions 3.1 by determining the components of coastal ecosystems most in need of adaptation management based on ecological information about their status, value and vulnerability, and, 3.4 by defining ecologically sound management options to enable adaptation of practices to enhance system resilience and adjustment time, and by modelling outcomes of different options based on implications for ecosystem functions.

b) NCCAP for Fisheries and Aquaculture strategy (NCCAP 2010) for “Improving understanding and awareness of Climate Change impacts on fisheries” and “facilitating ongoing assessment and monitoring of Climate Change impacts at suitable scales”.


1. Synthesize and integrate all current knowledge, data, tools and processes for the development of a national assessment of impacts and adaptation strategies for management of estuarine and coastal marine ecosystem under Climate Change that takes account of bioregional differences and differences among estuary types.
2. Evaluate the key adaptation strategies recognising that there needs to be a process to harmonise adaptation strategies for the public benefit.
3. Develop tools and guidelines, at a National level, for developing adaptation strategies for the estuarine environment that take bioregional and typological differences among estuaries.

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