New Environmental Assessment Model for Estuaries in Tasmania

Researchers have begun working on a new computer model that will allow communities and aquaculture industries to better assess the human and environmental impacts on estuarine and marine ecosystems in Tasmania.

A $1.5 million project has been approved for researchers to focus on estuarine and marine ecosystems in the Derwent and Huon Rivers and around Bruny Island. Salmon farms, a $300 million industry, will be getting considerable attention during the project.

Dr. Scott Condie, marine scientist for CSIRO's Wealth from Oceans Flagship, said the computer-based tool will allow management ideas to be tested by simulation.

"The project will help industry regulators and local communities to better understand how changes in the concentration of fish pens, the expansion of other industries, or new housing developments will impact their marine and estuarine environments," Condie said.

"We want to identify the regionally relevant environmental values, particularly with respect to their relationship to marine farming and how they relate to farm management practices and monitoring of the marine environment to tackle problems, such as toxic algal blooms," said Dr. MacLeod, researcher from the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

Tasmania is a climate change hotspot, which indicates a significant shift in water temperatures and nutrient levels. The integration of community values with environmental understanding by using computer modeling will help government agencies better manage risks that coastal marine environment and communities currently face.