Friday 16th Nov, 2018

Brisbane humpbacks under the microscope


A PROJECT to collect data on whales and shipping in Moreton Bay has begun, with Port of Brisbane teaming up with Griffith University’s Southern Ocean Persistent Organic Pollutants Program (SOPOPP) to collect data on humpback whales in Moreton Bay.

The data is to be used to inform a strategy being developed by the federal government that is examining the interaction of humpbacks and shipping vessels in port areas around the country.

Port of Brisbane CEO Roy Cummins said the pilot project was the first of its kind to be undertaken in Moreton Bay.

“Moreton Bay is one of the region’s most spectacular environmental assets and it’s essential we support its sustainable use, both in terms of its marine life as well as its important commercial role,” he said.

“Working with together with Griffith University means we can gather data that simply hasn’t been available for Moreton Bay before – independent mapping data on whale numbers and movements during the migration season, overlaid onto commercial shipping data.”

SOPOPP project leader Associate Professor Susan Bengtson Nash said the project would help to address a risk – which is recognised by the International Whaling Commission as a global priority – on a local scale.

“Our partnership with Port of Brisbane is facilitating acquisition of much-needed data regarding the use of Moreton Bay by migrating whales, and very much demonstrates the Port’s approach to environmental research and sustainable commercial use of the region,” she said.

Mr Cummins said the data would also help inform the Port’s environmental management strategies to help mitigate against potential interaction with commercial vessels in the port’s navigation channel.

“One of our key priorities is to ensure we develop the port in an environmentally sustainable manner, and we already have an extensive research and monitoring program in place to ensure this,” he said.

“While every year around 2500 commercial ships visit the Port, there are thousands of recreational boaties and other vessels who also enjoy the Bay all year around.

“We hope this research will also benefit the community by raising even greater awareness about the Bay’s important dual ecological and economic roles, and to ensure we can help preserve it for all to enjoy.”

The work is to start at the end of the migration season and overlay onto commercial shipping data. The pilot project is to be completed early next year.

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