Hervey Bay estuaries under microscope

IF YOU’D like the head’s up on how Hervey Bay’s estuaries will look 40 years from now, have a read of Springer’s new book Estuaries of Australia in 2050 and Beyond.

In it, University of Southern Queensland’s Associate Professor Dr Joachim Ribbe joins other leading Australian estuarine and coastal scientists in presenting detailed reports of 20 iconic estuaries and bays.

USQ Research - Estuaries

USQ Associate Professor Dr Joachim Ribbe collects scientific data from Hervey Bay waters.

“Most Australians live near the coast and human activity has impacted on about 500 Australian estuaries including Hervey Bay,” Dr Ribbe said.

“The estuaries here will have some limited impact from activities such as fishing, aquaculture, farming and urban development, but overall, Hervey Bay is a very special region, an almost pristine environment, and its uniqueness is reflected in being part of the UNESCO declared Great Sandy Biosphere.”

Part of Springer’s Estuaries of the World series, the book suggests what Australian estuaries will look like in 2050 and beyond, based on socio-economic decisions that are made now and changes that are needed to ensure sustainability.

“It is the scientific knowledge as presented in this publication that underpins natural resource management and aids future sustainable development of our coastal environment,” Dr Ribbe said.

978-94-007-7018-8The new book also reveals how Hervey Bay’s physical oceanography works and how climate variability impacts.

“In the future, we need to better understand how the Bay interacts with the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the north and the ocean to the east in a varying and changing climate.

“Scientific research, in particular continuous routine monitoring, needs to be funded to understand the functioning of coastal environments such as Hervey Bay.

“But there is little investment in these activities by government and industry.

“Yet, it is long-term monitoring and the data from these that underpins decision-making processes enabling future sustainable development of human activities such as aquaculture, tourism and urban expansion.

“There is little gained from one-off research activities as often required in the context of environmental impact assessments. We lack the long-term base studies that would provide a framework.

“In the context of Hervey Bay, I propose that industry and the local council could charge a $1 levy per day on excursions and overnight visitor accommodation, which could be channelled into research for sustainable futures.

“With over 600,000 tourists to the region, that would provide a good funding basis for research activities and long-term monitoring.”

For more information on Estuaries of Australia in 2050 and Beyond visit http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/earth+system+sciences/book/978-94-007-7018-8.

Story and photos: JOCELYN WATTS