Protecting marine biodiversity

A bed or corals on the Southern Ocean sea floor, and a lone octopus.
This area of high biodiversity discovered in the Southern Ocean in 2008 has been declared a Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem by CCAMLR. (Photo: AAD)

This research focus aims to develop a system of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean.

Spatial protection for marine biodiversity is a priority issue identified by both the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Our research aims to support the development of a comprehensive, adequate and representative candidate network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the CCAMLR area, focusing on East Antarctica and including identification and conservation of biological hotspots and vulnerable marine ecosystems.

The key research questions being investigated are:

  • Which marine areas need most protection in East Antarctica?
  • What methods and data are required to define marine areas for protection?
  • Can we better identify effective stocks, or meta-populations of harvested species to assist with the development of spatial management procedures?
  • Can areas of high conservation value in the Southern Ocean be identified using proxy data (e.g. sea surface temperature or remotely sensed ocean colour)?