Spencer Gulf is critical to South Australia’s prosperity. It produces almost half of South Australia’s seafood and is a major gateway to the State’s energy, mining and agricultural resources. The gulf supports a wide range of recreational activities and an expanding ecotourism sector. Its marine ecosystems and species have global conservation significance.
The economic status and social fabric of some of Spencer Gulf’s largest coastal communities have been impacted by contraction and closure of important industries. There is an urgent need to develop existing and new businesses to provide alternative employment opportunities and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the region, whilst still maintaining existing industries and the environmental values that underpin them.
One of the barriers to developing and assessing new industry proposals has been the lack of information on key ecosystems, environmental characteristics, communities and management arrangements in the gulf. Where information has been available, it’s been held across many different organisations and is difficult to access.
To address these needs, The Goyder Institute for Water Research, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and the Spencer Gulf Ecosystem and Development Initiative (SGEDI) funded a project called Socio-ecological assessment of the ecosystems, industries and communities of Spencer Gulf. This project is led by Associate Professor Tim Ward of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA). The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, and the Department for Environment and Water.
As a part of the project, SARDI’s Dr Fred Bailleul developed a new software platform named Gulfview that allows stakeholders to efficiently access spatially-explicit information about the environmental characteristics, ecological assets, human activities, management arrangements and socio-economic values of Spencer Gulf. The platform can be used by industry, community and policy-makers to obtain the information they need to develop and evaluate proposals for new developments, including aquaculture activities, desalination plants and ports.
Users can determine the characteristics of a specific location (e.g. depth, sea surface temperature, activities undertaken) and identify spatial overlaps between environmental, ecological and economic variables (e.g. seagrass habitat and shipping activity). Users can also control the selection criteria used to identify the parts of the gulf that may be suitable for a particular activity (e.g. aquaculture, desalination and ports).
This new tool will help marine businesses and government agencies to efficiently access information about the economic, social and ecological values of the gulf. The platform and underpinning spatial data will be made available to stakeholders through the PIRSA website later this year.
Contact Associate Professor Tim Ward for more information about Gulfview or visit the Socio-ecological assessment of the ecosystems, industries and communities of Spencer Gulf project page.