Marine Science Plan to help grow and protect Australia’s blue economy

12 August 2015

Australia is a marine nation. We have the third-largest marine jurisdiction of any nation on Earth—13.86 million square kilometres.*

John Gunn, National Marine Science Committee (NMSC) Chair and CEO AIMS, with The Hon Karen Andrews, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, and The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry and Science at the launch.


Growing Australia’s valuable “blue economy” while protecting our oceans is at the core of a National Marine Science Plan launched by the Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane at an event at Parliament House on 11 August, 2015.

The development of the 10 year plan was led by the National Marine Science Committee, which includes Australian Government marine science agencies, representatives of state and territory governments, and marine science researchers and organisations. More than 500 researchers and stakeholders contributed to the plan, which will guide Australia’s marine and science efforts, help maximise value and manage the growth of marine industries.

Left to right, Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral (or VADM) Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN; Shaun Gregory, Senior Vice President, Science and Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd; Dr Prue Addison, Early career researcher, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Dr Craig Foster, CEO Clean Seas; John Gunn, National Marine Science Committee (NMSC) Chair and CEO AIMS; Daniel Gschwind, CEO Queensland Tourism Industry Council.


The plan sets out the seven most significant development and sustainability challenges, including food and energy security, protecting biodiversity, sustainable coastal urban development, climate variability, and marine sovereignty and security.

“Tourism, shipping, oil and gas, aquaculture and fishing all rely on our oceans, and the contribution of marine-based industries to our economy has doubled in the last decade to around $47 billion,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“As this growth continues, we need to make the right investment and management decisions now to secure balanced triple bottom line benefits in the future.

“The plan examines how Australia’s marine science capabilities can be leveraged to support the sustainable development of the blue economy.

“The development of this plan has brought together the best and brightest of our marine science community,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Australian Government continues to support its high-calibre marine science institutions, like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and CSIRO. This plan presents a way forward for those agencies, other research organisations and industry to work together to ensure our ocean ecosystems bring economic, cultural and social benefits for all Australians.”

To read the plan visit the AIMS website.

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Australian Blue Economy 2025 - $100 billion invested per annum

Grand challenges: Marine sovereignty and security; Energy security; Food security; Biodiversity conservation; Sustainable urban coastal development; Climate change adaptation; Resource allocation.

10-year steps to success: Decision-support tools; Models and forecasts; Industry and government partnerships; Cross-disciplinary skills; Research vessels; Exploration, mapping, monitoring; Marine baselines; National collaborations.

* For the purpose of this Plan ‘marine estate’ is defined as Australia’s oceans, seas, seabed, coasts, close catchments, traditional sea country, and the living and non-living resources they contain within Australia’s full confirmed marine jurisdiction (i.e. water column and seabed beyond the territorial sea baseline) and is 13.86 million km2 (from Inspiring Australia Expert Working Group (2012) Marine science: a story for Australia, Australian Government, Canberra and Symonds P, Alcock, M & French, C (2009). Setting Australia’s limits: understanding Australia’s marine jurisdiction. AusGeo News 93:1–8, Australia’s full confirmed marine jurisdiction includes Australia’s territorial Sea (TS) of 0.85 million km2, exclusive economic zone of 10.19 million km2, extended continental shelf of 2.56 million km2, and marine areas landward of the territorial seabed baseline to coast (approx. 0.26 million km2).

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