Annual Report 2002 - 2003 - Reef & Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area The Great Barrier Reef...

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  • Established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program

    Annual Report 2002 - 2003 Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

  • Mission World-leading science for the sustainable use and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

    CRC Reef Research Centre (ABN 62 089 499 034) is a company limited by guarantee. Its members are Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation, James Cook University, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Seafood Industries Association and Sunfish Queensland Inc.

    Cover photo by Stephanie Schneider, JCU.

    Design by WWd,


    Conserving World Heritage values (Program A) To enable policy makers and environmental managers to use all relevant information in decision making for the use and conservation of the GBR region in accordance with its World Heritage values.

    Sustainable industries (Program B)

    To provide critical information for and about the operations of the key uses of the GBRWHA that are needed to manage those activities.

    Maintaining ecosystem quality (Program C)

    To generate critical information, relevant products and useful advice that will assist users, interested members of the Australian public, industry operators and natural resource managers to know the status and trends of marine ecosystems within the GBRWHA through development of benchmarks and performance indicators.

    Reef Futures (Program D)

    To improve the management and use of information within CRC Reef, to catalyse and participate in integrative projects, and to facilitate knowledge transfer among CRC Reef’s partners, and between CRC Reef and its key client groups.

    Education (Program E)

    To provide scholarships and research funding for students and exciting and innovative education and training programs for these future leaders in research, industry and management in Australia and overseas.

    Commercial and international (Program F)

    To provide training and advisory services, establish international education links, research and advisory contracts relevant to the aims of CRC Reef, and to generate income from these activities.

    Communication and extension (Program E)

    To facilitate effective communication of research results, enhance collaboration between participating organisations and increase the application of strategic knowledge by users.

    Major Achievements

    ● Improved method of estimating dugong abundance developed which is of use in conserving the species.

    ● Development of optimal Indigenous co-management of the GBRWHA models commenced.

    ● Development of models of critical dolphin habitat.

    ● High resolution hydrodynamic circulation model for the entire GBR and Torres Strait completed.

    ● Project started to develop techniques for disinfecting ballast water. ● Winning the right to host the Third International Symposium on Fish

    Otolith Research and Application.

    ● Publication of Catchments and Corals: Terrestrial Runoff to the Great Barrier Reef, which provides data invaluable for conserving the GBR ecosystem.

    ● Significant contribution to the State and Commonwealth governments’ Water Quality Protection Plan for the GBR.

    ● Environmental assessment of a sponge aquaculture industry for Palm Island Indigenous community.

    ● Exploration of the impacts of different climate scenarios for the 21st Century for coral reefs using satellite sea-temperature data.

    ● Assistance in developing software tools used to prepare GBRMPA’s Representative Areas Program zoning plan.

    ● Four postgraduate students supported by CRC Reef scholarships submitted or completed their theses.

    ● Postgraduate scholarships supported 25 students. ● The number of postgraduate students employed exceeded the target set

    for the life of the Agreement.

    ● The International Marine Project Activities Centre, a CRC Reef subsidiary, attracted new participants including the first Australian office of The Nature Conservancy and an office of WWF.

    ● First course in international fisheries instruments held with participants from across Australia and overseas.

    ● A total of $1,052,000 was raised by CRC Reef in additional revenue of which $840,154 was from commercial contracts (an increase of 300% since 1999-2000).

    ● SBS TV documentary Muddy Waters, featuring CRC Reef researcher, from AIMS, Dr Katharina Fabricius, aired.

    ● Production of user-friendly brochures about line fishing, land use and marine tourism on the GBR.

    ● Indigenous Working Group established to advise on communication protocols.

    ● 37 papers published in professional journals.

  • 1. Performance _____________________________________________________ 2

    2. Corporate governance ______________________________________________ 4

    3. New ventures ____________________________________________________ 5

    4. Research _______________________________________________________ 10

    5. Cooperative linkages ______________________________________________ 27

    6. Education and training _____________________________________________ 32

    7. Commercial and international ________________________________________ 35

    8. Communication and extension ________________________________________ 38

    Appendix 1 ... Performance indicators _____________________________________ 41

    Appendix 2 ... Corporate governance, structure and management _________________ 45

    Appendix 3 ... CRC Reef postgraduate students ______________________________ 47

    Appendix 4 ... Grants and awards ________________________________________ 53

    Appendix 5 ... Publications _____________________________________________ 54

    Appendix 6 ... Staffing and administration __________________________________ 56

    Appendix 7 ... Budget ________________________________________________ 61

    Appendix 8 ... Audit __________________________________________________ 64

    List of abbreviations __________________________________________________ 65

    Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

    The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is an area of unique national and international significance. It reaches from the Queensland coast to beyond the outer Great Barrier Reef and comprises the world’s largest and healthiest collection of coral reefs. The GBRWHA also includes mangroves, rocky reefs, sandflats, open ocean and the deep sea floor.

    Because of its unique natural value, the GBRWHA is listed under the World Heritage Convention. The use and conservation of resources in the GBRWHA is managed by several management systems including the world’s largest, multiple-use marine parks system.

    Commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism, shipping and ports operate in the GBRWHA. These industries are economically important both for the state of Queensland and for Australia. Major export ports and shipping channels are located in, or adjacent to, the area. Reef-based tourism is estimated to be worth about $1 billion a year and commercial fisheries worth about $400 million annually.

    These industries depend on a healthy ecosystem for sustainable success. CRC Reef Research Centre provides scientific research to ensure the sustainable use of the GBRWHA.


  • 2

    1. Performance

    During 2002-03, CRC Reef Research Centre was able to provide government and industry with vital scientific information on which to base management plans addressing some of the major issues confronting the Great Barrier Reef – issues such as coral death associated with warming of the ocean, a continuing major outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish, declines in the quality of coastal waters and habitats and increases in fishing effort.

    Top: Professor Russell Reichelt, CEO, Mr Peter Lindsay, Member for Herbert, Dr Miles Furnas, author, and Professor Stephen Hall from AIMS, launch the book ‘Catchments and Corals: Terrestrial Runoff to the Great Barrier Reef’.

    Photo by CRC Reef.

    Bottom: Dr Miles Furnas taking water samples from the Burdekin River.

    Photo by AIMS.

    Delivering applied research results

    Water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has been a high priority research issue since the Centre opened. This year, Dr Miles Furnas, a CRC Reef researcher at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), published a major review of river runoff into the GBR in the form of a book - Catchments and Corals: Terrestrial Runoff to the Great Barrier Reef. This important reference work provides the scientific evidence to demonstrate that the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) is declining and that the Reef is at risk if this decline is not halted.

    CRC Reef’s research on water quality has contributed significantly to the scientific base of support for the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments’ Water Quality Protection Plan for the GBR. This plan, in draft form, is now available for public consultation.

    A further emerging problem for the GBR is the threat of exotic species being introduced. Alien species can be introduced unintentionally by way of bulk carrier vessels that arrive in ports around the world with ballast water that carries unknown quantities of foreign organisms. Once alien species are introduced, there is a real risk of catastrophic changes to the marine