Key benefits

  • Decision-making for coastal and catchment management requires rapid, cost-effective and broad-scale assessments of human impacts on shallow coastal waters. To effectively manage coastal benthic habitats, assessment and monitoring techniques need to provide integration across a combination of broad scale coverage and selective fine-scale analysis. Techniques should be readily deployed, low-cost and provide useful data for assessment and ongoing monitoring. This project developed substantial improvements to traditional direct sampling techniques which were often slow and costly.
  • Habitat mapping was a relatively underdeveloped field, in Australia and elsewhere. The project significantly enhanced national shallow water habitat mapping capability and provided the guidelines for the range of techniques and interpretations available for use. It allowed a sustained program of development, refinement and evaluation of acoustic mapping techniques linked with video and other methods in a variety of habitat regimes such as the spatial and temporal variability of habitats and their impact on fisheries productivity.
  • By measuring the extent and variability of coastal benthic habitats, the project helped provide important indicators of marine biodiversity. They were essential for the assessment of environmental change. The indicators help ensure consistent guidelines for habitat assessment, classification and monitoring are available and used.
  • The ability to interpret shallow water coastal habitat assists organisations such as the Australian Defence Force, which require real time identification of seafloor condition and risk. Fast, low cost and accurate positioning also helps coastal managers to more accurately map Representative Marine Protected Areas throughout Australia and to monitor environmental impacts.

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Project outputs

Approaches used to map and monitor coastal environments can be significantly improved when used in conjunction with remote sensing techniques. While the techniques are not new, they have not been used in this manner or at this scale to map and monitor the state of coastal ecosystems. One key output is the development of a 'toolkit of techniques and interpretation'. The toolkit provides an effective suite of decision tools to monitor progress towards sustainability. It provides guidelines for a range of techniques and interpretations available for use, and include:

  • A database driven 'chooser' program which allows potential users to select specific technologies to suit their management requirements
  • A series of completed habitat mapping programs
  • Techniques and software suited for commercialisation
  • Techniques to provide shallow water classification by interfacing relevant biological information together with the technical outputs from related sub-projects, and
  • Available technologies and interpretations that allow cost-effective habitat classification, geomorphic process changes and performance measurement at a regional scale.

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