We are pleased to announce the approval of $1.93 million in funding under the State Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Support Program. This significant investment will enhance Australia’s ocean monitoring capabilities by expanding the Integrated Marine Observing System’s New South Wales Node (NSW-IMOS), based at SIMS.

This funding will advance NSW-IMOS’s coastal observing capabilities, addressing critical gaps in ocean data and contributing to the sustainable use of Australia’s marine estate. The project builds on over 15 years of data collection by NSW-IMOS and will support research on the response of the NSW marine estate to climate change, informing planning and decision-making.

The expansion  will be supported by co-investments from key partners, including the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries, the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS, funded by the Australian Government under NCRIS), and SIMS’s university partners: The University of New South Wales, The University of Sydney, The University of Technology Sydney, and Macquarie University.

IMOS Animal Tracking Facility Manager Emma Bowen services an acoustic receiver at One Tree Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
Green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas

“These new coastal observations will generate important information needed by the agrifood, energy, transport, tourism, infrastructure, and other sectors, and build pathways to employment for STEM professionals,” said Professor Martina Doblin, Director and CEO of SIMS.

The program will focus on vital measurements, including habitat use and oceanographic data collection in shallow coastal waters by threatened marine mammals and reptiles, development of accurate numerical models to understand estuary outflows, movement dynamics of key fishery species, and the influence of land runoff on coastal water quality.

Research into the movements of marine species like sea turtles in warming ocean waters will not only measure the impacts of climate change but also aid in developing forecasting models for tropical cyclones and East Coast Low formation. These improvements enhance safety and hazard reduction planning for coastal assets and communities.

Currently, limited observations in NSW coastal waters result in significant uncertainty about the impacts of large storm events and flooding on water quality. Furthermore, ocean conditions drive critical processes for many fished species, and oceanographic models support adaptive management of fisheries in the context of environmental change and variability.

This research will benefit from SIMS’s collaboration with the Taronga Conservation Society Australia, the NSW fishing industry, and the National Parks and Wildlife Services. Moreover, SIMS is poised to deliver key data needed to develop climate adaptation pathways, offering comprehensive insights to inform planning across ecosystem health, maritime safety, and beyond, providing economic, social, cultural, and environmental benefits to NSW’s marine and coastal communities.

As this project unfolds, we eagerly anticipate welcoming new staff to the SIMS family. Stay tuned for more updates as this expansion progresses!

Yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi