University Of Tasmania
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Seabed mapping on Australia's southern margin: Baseline information for science and marine management

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-02, 04:57 authored by PJ Hill, NF Exon, HMJ Stagg
In ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1994, Australia took responsibility for a marine jurisdiction that is more than 1.5 times the area of the landmass. While ownership of offshore resources provided under UNCLOS bestows certain rights (including exploitation), it also carries a range of obligations, including the protection and preservation of the marine environment. In order to fulfil these obligations, there is a key need for the acquisition and interpretation of baseline scientific information that will support the sustainable use and management of marine resources. The most critical baseline information required is the detailed depth and shape of the seafloor and the nature of the shallow substrate, particularly in high-use areas. Such information underpins the activities of virtually all government, industry and academic sectors working offshore, including petroleum and minerals, fisheries and mariculture, engineering, defence, transport, tourism and environmental management. Knowledge of the seabed is also critical for the issues of multiple sequential land use to be addressed offshore. The current state of such knowledge is extremely variable, with the highest quality 3-D seabed mapping data being available over only about 5% of the Australian marine jurisdiction.
Certain basic data sets should be available to all organisations and individuals working in the marine environment. Description and discussion of the seabed mapping component of acquiring those data sets on the southern margin of Australia form the basis of this paper. Priorities for seabed mapping are suggested, e.g. the southeastern and somhwestern margins of the continent.


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