ARC funding for Coffin Bay research

Coffin Bay – the popular tourist destination on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula – is known for its scenery, natural features and high-quality oysters and other marine products which flourish in its waters.

Chief investigator Flinders Professor Adrian Werner, who completed an ARC Future Fellowship on coastal hydrogeology.

With new Australian Research Council (ARC) funding, Flinders University is leading a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognised specialists in marine and freshwater sciences and industry leaders to examine the environmental conditions of the bay, which support the lucrative aquaculture industry.

The latest ARC Linkage Project funding (LP230100230), ‘Threats to the water quality and ecosystem of Coffin Bay, South Australia,’ ($359,977 over three years) brings together researchers from Flinders University, Charles Darwin University and Griffith University, with support from key industry partners in areas of water, land and aquaculture management.

Project lead Professor Adrian Werner says the project is an important chance for leading Australian experts in hydrology, microbiology, ecology, chemistry and oceanography to identify the sources and fate of nutrients in Coffin Bay.

“The overarching objective of the project is to assist decision-makers to understand the factors that impact the bay’s water quality, and to optimise the deployment of protective measures for mitigating nutrient and sediment influxes to the bay,” says Professor Werner, who completed an ARC Future Fellowship on coastal hydrogeology.

Photo courtesy Oysters SA

“We will use innovative techniques to better understand the complexities of the Coffin Bay system and its catchment, including microbiological source tracking, chemical signature analysis and novel ocean-groundwater-catchment modelling.”

Professor Werner says the research will assist management and monitoring of other Australian bays and estuaries which require stable water quality to protect sensitive ecosystems along with economically important tourism, aquaculture and fishing industries.

Researchers look forward to working with partner organisations including the Environmental Protection Authority, Lower Eyre Council, Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, SA Oyster Research Council and Department for Environment and Water.

Flinders Professor Sabine Dittmann, Associate Professor Graziela Miot da Silva and Associate Professor Stewart Walker are also chief investigators, with Professor Karen Gibb (CDU) and Professor Matthew Currell (Griffith).

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