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Climate change risks to the marine environment

Climate change and its impacts on marine biodiversity and resources – as well as surrounding coastal habitats, communities and industries – will be the subject of new Australian research.

A Research Plan released today - National Climate Change Adaptation Research Plan: Marine Biodiversity and Resources - states climate change will lead to ocean warming, changes in ocean currents, more intense storm events and changed ocean chemistry.

The Research Plan, released by the Australian Government, says these changes may have major implications for communities and industries which depend on our marine ecosystems.

The Research Plan was developed by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and involved Australia’s leading marine researchers - including from the CSIRO. The Plan identifies research priorities in four main areas – aquaculture, commercial and recreational fishing, conservation management and tourism and recreational uses.

In response to the Research Plan, the Government announced $5.5 million for research to help managers and users of the marine environment to prepare for the likely impacts of climate change. The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency will provide $3.5 million of the funding, with the additional $2 million from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Senator Wong said the marine environment was already experiencing the impacts of climate change.

"We have already lost the opportunity to avoid climate change altogether," Senator Wong said.

"This research will help us better understand the impacts of climate change on the communities and industries around Australia who rely on marine ecosystems, so they can adapt to these changes."

Mr Burke said the research plan and funding would help fishers and aquaculture operators by supporting research priorities to help ensure the long-term growth and productivity of the sector.

"Australians love their seafood and the fishing industry plays a vital role in supporting local jobs and regional communities," Mr Burke said.

"The research recommended in the plan will help underpin a sustainable and reliable supply into the future for an industry worth around $2.2 billion each year."

by S. C.
26 march 2010, World News > Oceania