On the map: new portal to support Tasmanian marine planning decisions

A new online mapping portal that collates information on Tasmania’s marine activities, and the environments in which they occur, will inform the state’s marine planning decisions – and will make spatial data more user-friendly and accessible to the community.

The University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) launched the new Tasmania’s Marine Atlas portal this week. It tracks overlapping activities in the state’s marine environment, including aquaculture, vessels, fishing and infrastructure, and shows how these activities may interact with ecosystems through data on habitat diversity and marine species.

This portal is now accessible to government, industry, researchers and the community to support marine planning decisions relating to the state’s marine resources. Historically, this data has been dispersed, and difficult to find and understand.

“As the Atlas shows where marine activities occur, it can identify potential conflicts – and collaboration – between marine activities,” said IMAS researcher Dr Myriam Lacharité, who led the project. “This includes identifying efficiencies between marine activities that are close to each other.

“The portal can also show where marine activities may overlap with sensitive species and ecosystems, or existing and planned developments, and this can identify where new management approaches may be needed.

“We want the Atlas to help people find information on marine ecosystems, and marine uses and pressures. It could eventually be used to source information to feed into more advanced decision-support tools, which further assist governments, researchers, marine industries and the community in making decisions on marine resources.”

Interactions between various marine activities in Tasmania. Credit: IMAS Salmon Interactions Team

The Atlas also features stories that will improve ocean literacy by simplifying complex information on where human activities occur and how these interact with the natural environment.

“For example, there’s a feature on how the Longspined sea urchin’s range extension into Tasmania is impacting fisheries and the natural environment,” Dr Lacharité said.

Seafood Industry Tasmania CEO, Julian Harrington said a growing number of stakeholders want access to Tasmania’s marine estate.

“The Tasmanian Marine Atlas provides a centralised platform that will help the seafood industry to both understand how other stakeholders currently use, and propose to use, the marine estate and how these other uses will impact seafood production and value – all in the one online resource,” Mr Harrington said.

Tasmania’s Marine Atlas Feature Maps (L-R): marine boundaries, aquaculture, sea level rise and marine traffic. Credit: IMAS supplied

This project was supported by funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government and has engaged a diverse group of stakeholders in Tasmania’s marine environment.

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