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Background

The Great Australian Bight is one of Australia's most valuable marine ecosystems. It supports globally significant populations of seabirds and marine mammals, diverse and endemic benthic assemblages and important fishing, aquaculture and ecotourism industries.

The region is also considered a significant frontier for potential offshore petroleum resources and is actively being explored for oil and gas.

The Great Australian Bight Research Program (GABRP) was an innovative, multi-year, $20 million, inter-disciplinary research collaboration involving BP Developments Australia (BP), CSIRO, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, that was developed in response to exploration activities in the region.

The Program was the first large-scale, integrated study of the Great Australian Bight that involved more than 100 of Australia's leading scientists and technical staff to generate a whole-of-system understanding of the region's environmental, economic and social values. A number of post-graduate PhD students were also involved in the Program.

The Research Program comprised of sixteen inter-related projects covering seven research themes: physical oceanography, open water (pelagic) research; sea floor (benthic) biodiversity; apex predators; petroleum systems; socio-economic analysis; and integration and modelling.

Scientific quality assurance was provided by a review process that involved an Independent Science Panel comprising internationally recognised experts in key discipline areas.

Ecological data collected during the study will be publicly available. Findings were presented to stakeholders and regulators and published in technical reports and scientific papers throughout the course of the program. This is vital information for all users of the Bight because it provides a solid basis on which to measure possible human impacts and help industry and government plan for future activities.

Conference paper: Integrated approach to ecological and socio-economic research to support the oil and gas industry: the Great Australian Bight Collaborative Research Science Program (PDF 420KB)

 


 

The Great Australian Bight Research Program is a collaboration between BP, CSIRO, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the University of Adelaide, and Flinders University.