'KelpWatch' - Monitoring Giant Kelp Forests in Tasmania
Photo by: Jon BryanPhoto by: Jon BryanPhoto by: Jon BryanPhoto by: Jon Bryan

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'The Tasmanian Giant Kelp Project'

Project Aims

In 2000, the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE), and the University of Tasmania (and Tasmanian Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute) received funding from the Commonwealth Government's 'Coast and Clean Seas Program' to undertake a detailed conservation assessment of Macrocystis beds in Tasmania. Specifically, the project will map and survey beds of Macrocystis around the coast of Tasmania, and undertake a comprehensive conservation, threat and recovery assessment. This will include:

  • an analysis of the historical loss of Macrocystis (using historical navigational charts, and aerial photography and oceanographic surface sea temperature data and historical data on the distribution of Undaria pinnatifida and pollution sources), to identify potential threats;
  • a conservation assessment of existing beds to determine potential for listing under Commonwealth and State/Territory endangered species legislation and also, potential sites for reservation as Marine Reserves;
  • and the design an ongoing monitoring and recovery program, incorporating a international review of kelp monitoring, recovery and restoration techniques (particularly in California, where large scale losses of Macrocystis have also occurred) and their potential application in Tasmania, and importantly, identify opportunities for community-based involvement and participation.

Specifically, the technical information from this project (ie. distribution, threat analysis, monitoring and restoration techniques) will be critical in the design of an ongoing monitoring and recovery plan as required under State and Commonwealth threatened species legislation.

Community/Industry Participation

A critical element of the program is the need to acknowledge and include the local anecdotal knowledge and experience of the marine industries (ie. diving, fishing, shipping) and also, the local experience of community groups (such as 'SeaCare'), who have been specifically involved in field trails and efforts to restore Giant Kelp. This will be achieved primarily through the establishment of a community-based project, 'KelpWatch', to assess and incorporate local anecdotal knowledge on Giant Kelp in Tasmania. There are also ongoing ecological studies on Giant Kelp being undertaken by the University of Tasmania (TAFI).

Giant Kelp Steering Committee

The participation of non-government interests in the Tasmanian Giant Kelp Project is also being assisted through the establishment of a 10-person Giant Kelp Steering Committee, which has a wide representation of government (fisheries, threatened species, conservation), research (Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute), industry (Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council, Dive Tasmania) and conservation interests (Tasmanian Conservation Trust, 'SeaCare', marine education). Together, the combined scientific expertise of marine researchers from DPIWE and TAFI, and the local experience of industry and community groups, represents the single, largest research (and policy) effort on Giant Kelp in Tasmania.


Photo by JBryan Sponge, close-up
(Photo: Jon Bryan)

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Enquiries and feedback: Karen.Edyvane@utas.edu.au
URL: http://www.geol.utas.edu.au/kelpwatch/   Last modified: 15. December 2004