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Managing Australia’s marine jurisdictions


Maximise benefits from the sustainable use of Australia’s marine environment.


To achieve this objective, Geoscience Australia develops new, national-scale products and coordinates national seabed mapping activities to establish an accessible national collection of marine geoscience data to leverage Australia’s vast data holdings.

Table 5: Strategic priority: Managing Australia’s marine jurisdictions—performance

Marine Jurisdiction and Coastal Zone

Program deliverable1


Deliver and maintain the AusSeabed web portal for seabed environmental data in collaboration with Commonwealth, state and territory entities, universities and industry

Geoscience Australia led the establishment of the AusSeabed Steering Committee and was appointed as first Chair. The AusSeabed strategic plan was delivered and Geoscience Australia took on the role of manager of the data hub for marine datasets. The AusSeabed website and monthly newsletter were developed to maintain communication pathways among the AusSeabed collaborators and the seabed mapping community.

Geoscience Australia also delivered the AusSeabed survey planning and data request tool, in collaboration with FrontierSI and the Australian Hydrographic Office. This tool is providing a mechanism to develop consistent quality bathymetric survey specifications and to promote collaboration on upcoming surveys.

Develop and deliver national marine geoscience datasets to support the management of Australia’s marine assets

Geoscience Australia developed a marine data portal and, through collaboration between teams working on projects such as the Enhanced Location Value Information System (ELVIS) and Exploring for the Future, maintained and added content in a timely manner. This resulted in client requests for data increasing by approximately 300% compared to the total for 2017–18, and bathymetry becoming one of the top 10 datasets delivered through the portals since being added in January 2019. Geoscience Australia made available new bathymetric data from external contributors and published an update to the national marine sediments database, with new data analytics functionality.

A major audit of the national seabed samples collection was completed, delivering a comprehensive digital record of physical samples held in the repository.

Provide information and advice to support policy in Australia’s marine jurisdiction under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980

Geoscience Australia delivered environmental summaries for the Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release 2019 and provided advice to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority regarding environmental impacts of noise from marine seismic surveys.

Geoscience Australia also participated in the Antarctic research expert assessment panel led by the Australian Antarctic Division to review applications to the Australian Antarctic Science Program. Through the Australian Antarctic Division, Geoscience Australia provided input to Australia’s review of the Draft Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation for Continuation and Modernization of McMurdo Station Area Activities in Antarctica submitted by the United States.

Deliver collaborative projects with partners of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program, Marine Biodiversity Hub, to support management of the Commonwealth marine area

In collaboration with partner entities in the Marine Biodiversity Hub, Geoscience Australia led the completion of a series of environmental summaries (eco-narratives) of six Australian marine parks, for use by Parks Australia (Department of the Environment and Energy). The eco-narratives are published in the Australian Marine Parks Science Atlas and on the Marine Biodiversity Hub website.

Geoscience Australia also led the delivery of reports from national workshops on improving the discoverability of and access to seabed imagery and biological specimen data, and a scoping report on opportunities for establishing standard operating procedures for sub-seabed data acquisition for marine surveys.

Implement a shallow-water seafloor mapping program in high-use near-shore regions adjacent to the three Australian Antarctic research stations, Casey, Davis and Mawson, in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division and Royal Australian Navy

Geoscience Australia collaborated with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the design of the nearshore mapping survey at Davis and Mawson stations that was completed by the RAN during the 2018–19 summer. The final bathymetry grid for nearshore areas at Davis Station, acquired in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division and the RAN, was published.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Key performance indicator1


2018–19 result

Availability of new marine and coastal bathymetry data via Geoscience Australia’s website within six months of being compliant with data standards



Bathymetry datasets were completed and published within the required timeframe, as follows:

  • Davis Multibeam Survey 2016/17, Antarctica—High Resolution Bathymetry Grid was published six months after data standards compliance
  • Kerguelen Plateau Bathymetry Grid—Revision was published three weeks after data standards compliance.

1 Source: 2018–19 Corporate Plan.

Analysis of performance

With increasing global demand for energy, food and security, activity within our marine jurisdiction is becoming increasingly important to our economy. Effective and efficient management of this precious environment relies on systematic baseline mapping, understanding of marine resources and assets, and the ability to measure change over time.

During 2018–19, Geoscience Australia delivered high-quality marine geoscience information and evidence to support decision-making and policy development for the marine and coastal zone. In particular, the domestic operations of the Australian Hydrographic Office, Parks Australia and the Australian Antarctic Division depended on Geoscience Australia information to support safety of navigation, the management and monitoring of marine protected areas, and on-water activities.

The need for authoritative and defensible information to support policy and operations in the marine estate remained high. In 2018–19, Geoscience Australia led the further development of the AusSeabed website (ausseabed.gov.au) to improve access to seabed data and facilitate partnerships to coordinate the acquisition of new data, with an initial focus on bathymetry. The forward plan for data sharing through AusSeabed was progressed in 2018–19 with the completion of a roadmap for the data hub that will facilitate open access to bathymetry data.

Geoscience Australia maintained its commitment to supporting marine science nationally through membership of the National Marine Science Committee, and is currently serving on the Steering Committee and Research Leadership Team for the National Environmental Science Programme Marine Biodiversity Hub.

Geoscience Australia continued to build and maintain enduring geoscience data and products covering the marine and coastal zone that maximised the value of bathymetry, seabed samples and imagery. Key achievements in 2018–19 included the delivery of new bathymetry grids for parts of the Australian Antarctic Territory, the online delivery of collated five-metre resolution bathymetry data acquired by the Marine National Facility, and the introduction of analytical tools to support the national seabed sediments database. As evidenced by the threefold increase in the number of direct client requests and the top 10 delivery status given to bathymetry datasets available through the AusSeabed web portal, these products are being increasingly used by industry, researchers and government, including to monitor the management and promote the conservation values of Australian marine parks.