With Australian reefs facing ever growing pressures from a range of environmental and human-induced impacts, research to support innovative reef resilience, adaption and restoration is needed now more than ever.
This is what the Australian Coral Reef Resilience Initiative (ACRRI) - a seven-year AU$27 million research project jointly funded by BHP and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) - hopes to achieve.
The most recent expedition, led by AIMS, aimed to advance the understanding of how to help fast-track reef recovery as well as train participants in coral aquaculture techniques to help them manage sea country in the future.
Coming together as part of the annual mass coral spawning event on the Great Barrier Reef, more than 40 scientists, Woppaburra Traditional Custodians and BHP representatives spent time on sea Country and aboard the bespoke floating laboratory - a car barge turned into a science facility - to study the coral seeding processes.
Anne Dekker, BHP Vice President Environment and expedition participant, said the initiative takes a 'whole-of-system' approach to reef restoration.
"At the heart of this initiative is the building of meaningful partnerships with the Traditional Custodians of the sea country. By sharing two different knowledge systems, we hope to deliver impactful research for all Australians."
"Not only are we learning from each other to protect the reef for generations to come, but the initiative is also creating skills and employment pathways in coral and fish aquaculture for the Woppaburra Traditional Custodians," Anne said.
"We also know how important these partnerships are for delivering the nature positive outcomes we're striving for - with our goal to have made a measurable contribution to the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in all regions where we operate by FY2030."
"It's about social value, a core part of our business, and the positive contribution we make to the environment and society, together with our people, partners, customers and the communities where we operate,” Anne said.
As one of AIMS' largest field and engagement exercises in its 50-year history, the Woppaburra Coral Project team will now care for the coral young and settle the larvae onto engineered seeding devices, which will be deployed back to the reefs around the Keppel Islands to further their research.
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