'Great Southern Seascapes' Program
The Nature Conservancy & Donors: Lotterywest, Minderoo Foundation, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions, Adrian & Michela Fini, Austral Fisheries, James & Marion Taylor, Gavin Bunning, The McCusker Charitable Foundation, Major Holdings, David & Noellene Williams and Mike & Margrete Chaney
Support 2018 - 2023
Along the southern coast of Australia lie hundreds of bays and estuaries that contain vital temperate habitats. Many of these teem with unique marine and estuarine species but the health of many of these marine ecosystems is under threat and have led to more extinctions in estuaries than any other marine ecosystems. Great Southern Seascapes program is a wonderful initiative by The Nature Conservancy aimed at introducing and nurturing native oysters which should dramatically improve the quality of Australia’s Southern estuarine waters. Restoration programs are underway in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Windara Reef, South Australia and Oyster Harbor, Peel Estuary and the Swan River, Western Australia.
The Foundation has been the principal driver and a key financial supporter of The Nature Conservancy's plan to restore and improve Western Australia's iconic Swan River estuary and of other Western Australian locations. A combination of nutrient inflow from the tributaries of the Swan and Canning Rivers and an increasing human footprint and usage of this magnificent estuary has led to a sharply deteriorating water quality. Without a clean water column this estuarine ecosystem will remain in stress and vulnerable to negative events such as species loss (already occurring with the loss of swan river prawns and cobbler fish), massive fish kills, etc. This ambitious $4 - $5 million initiative is aimed at improving the Swan's declining water quality for all stakeholders.
In late September 2020 Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley announced a $20 million 'Reef Builder' investment to support shellfish reef restoration at up to 13 sites across southern Australian bays, estuaries and embayments. There will be about $3.8 million directed towards the Swan - Canning, Peel-Estuary and Albany locations. This new Federal funding will underwrite the completion of our initial shellfish reef restorations efforts in Western Australia. It is an endorsement of The Nature Conservancy's knowledge and operational skill in this important conservation area and very importantly it was the preparedness of concerned companies and private individuals to donate to early-stage Australian research, trials and concepts which influenced the Federal Government's decision to support ongoing funding. The Foundation thanks these donors for their much-appreciated and strategically important support.
Image: The Nature Conservancy Image: Becfishwest
Monitoring Oysters - Albany, WA Assessing Oysters - Albany, WA
COSMOS March 2019
Shark Bay Research - Western Australia
UWA Oceans Institute; CSIRO; AIMS & Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development
(W.A. Government); Kemper Shaw; James & Marion Taylor; Minderoo Foundation
2020 - 2023
Climate change has heavily impacted the Shark Bay World Heritage Area with 2010/2011 marine
heatwave contributing to the largest seagrass loss (>30%) ever recorded. It is not known how such
extreme events will impact plant and animal communities that provide important ecological, social and
The projects to be undertaken:
(i) Gathaagudu (meaning two bays in traditional language) Animal Tracking (funded by JCM Foundation,
Shaw & Taylor) has investigated the movements and habitat use of iconic megafauna such as turtles,
dugongs and tiger sharks in Shark Bay.
(ii) iCoAST a collaboration among science organizations to increase our ability to predict and manage
resilience in W.A.'s coastal habitats to climate change. This may have adaptive applicability in other
(iii) Malgana Sea (funded by Minderoo) a project aimed at building research capacity within the Malgana
(indigenous community of Gathaagudu) by formalizing traditonal ecological knowledge and providing
training in western marine science.
Image: Kitting up prior to diving on seagrass beds at Shark Bay
Image: Quantifying seagrass habitats
Plastics Tracker - Global
James & Marion Taylor; Minderoo Foundation; Flotilla Foundation & Plastics Solutions Fund
2020 - 2023
This Foundation together with James & Marion Taylor are providing the backbone funding for the 'Plastic Tracker' project. It is currently scheduled to be a three-year program with total funding for the project of the order of £2.1 m.
The fundamental goal of Plastics Tracker is to contribute to stemming the flow of environmentally damaging plastic products that are creating global waste and health issues. In so doing it should assist in enabling the creation of a more sustainable plastics industry. The project will support this transition by identifying the elements of the supply chain that are generating the greatest number of adverse issues, analyse their financial values and provide transparency to the dealing and business relationships of such elements. We believe this knowledge will apply pressure for owners and investors to seek positive change in plastic industry practice.
Overall investors face risks across the plastics supply chains. These risks include stranded assets, declining demand in high-value, low-margin production, reputational risks, inability to address investors' engagement concerns and not being able to accurately forecast investment returns as the supply chain evolves towards less plastic waste. Through a team of five full-time and two part-time executives based primarily in London and New York the approach by Plastic Tracker will initially be to determine key beneficial owners, material flows and financial valuation trends across the plastics industry. The program will then expand to explore and highlight the financial impacts of the import/export global waste trade to clearly show the accumulation and the transport of plastic waste.
This is an important initiative for the Foundation. It would like to thank the Minderoo Foundation and James & Marion Taylor for their initiation and generous co-participation.
Image: Great Ocean Garbage Patch
UWA Oceans Institute
University of Western Australia
2021 and ongoing
The Foundation, in 2021, was pleased to provide an endowment to establish, for perpetuity, a Chair of marine science at the UWA Oceans Institute. A specific endowment fund has been established with equal co-investment by the Foundation and the UWA and demonstrates a shared commitment to the importance of marine research. We believe it will establish a strong leadership foundation for exciting and transformative marine research into the future.
Robson & Robinson Award Scholarships - PhD and master's students & early career scientists
University of Western Australia
2017 and ongoing
One of the things we wanted the Marine Foundation to do was to back young marine scientists during their studies and while commencing their research careers. The JCM Foundation established in 2017 the Robson & Robinson Awards, in recognition of the formation, in 2010, of the Oceans Institute by Professors Alan Robson and Alistar Robertson. By the end of 2022 a total of 64 young, talented, marine students have received awards averaging about $ 9,000 each to support their doctorate research. In addition, the Foundation supports early career scientists. In November 2017 Dr Matthew Fraser became the inaugural Robson & Robertson research Fellow recipient. His five-year Fellowship is aimed at continuing to develop innovative solutions to improve conservation and management of our coastal systems with a particular focus on seagrass ecology.
Parties seeking to access a Robson & Robertson Award need to be associated with the University of Western Australia and should direct their inquiries through:
UWA Oceans Institute (M470)
The University of Western Australia
Western Australia 6009
Image: UWA Oceans Institute
'Save Our Marine Life' Campaign & new MPA - No take marine area Campaign
A collection of conservation groups termed the Save Our Marine Life Collaboration
2008 - 2012
Support was provided to the Campaign to establish a comprehensive and representative series of marine protected areas (‘MPA’s’) in federally controlled marine locations in the South-West of Australia. While the Campaign was very effective, for a variety of reasons the gazetting and promulgation of new MPA’s did not occur. This was disappointing and the need remains – more than ever – to properly extend the MPA’s around our Australian coastline.
2020 - 2025
A new initiative is now underway whereby a conservation focused MPA Group being scientists, stakeholder parties and other non-government organizations are seeking to substantially increase Western Australia's No-Take Marine Areas ('NTMA's'). If this was to meet with success a national effort will be undertaken by the Foundation and the other supporting groups.
MPA’s and no-take marine reserves are a significant conservation measure that can be utilized to preserve and improve our marine ecosystems. Our group is concerned the high catch rate by recreational fishers and fishing-charter vessel operations are having a significant negative impact on targeted fish abundance. Either bag limits need to very substantially decrease or NTMA's need to be put in place to preserve older, larger, breeding female fishes and assist with general recruitment.
With the future establishment of MPA’s comes the obligation to recognize all existing stakeholders in these areas and where appropriate provide fair compensation to such stakeholders.
Two papers specifically focusing on the importance of MPA's and NTMA's in Australia were co-authored by Jock Clough (available below):
Goetze JS, Wilson S, Radford B, et al. 'Increased connectivity and depth improve the effectiveness of marine reserves' Global Change Biol. 2021;00:1–16. https:// doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15635 and
Bosch NE, Monk J, Goetze J, et al.' Effects of human footprint and physical factors on body size structure of fished marine species' Conservation Biology 2021;1-13. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13807
The West Australian Newspaper
The Australian Newspaper
Goetze et al. 2021 Global Change Biology
Bosch et al.
Marine Heat Wave Research
Western Australian Government Departments (DPIRD and DBCA), Australian Institute of Marine Science, Bureau of Meteorology, Integrated Marine Observing System.
The Foundation instigated a collaboration with the four WA marine science-focused universities UWA, Curtin, ECU and Murdoch to undertake a research project to develop an advanced understanding and the predictive tolls to accurately forecast extreme sea water temperature events and their impact on marine ecosystems along the Western Australian coastline. It aims to empower management agencies and other stakeholders with the knowledge and tools to develop effective responses. Assoc. Professor Nicole Jones of the UWA Oceans Institute is leading the multidisciplinary research program. WA marine ecosystems and dependent industries such as fisheries have endured prolonged, extreme warm water events (marine heatwaves (MHW)) that are projected to increase in frequency and duration with future ocean warming. Over the past decade, marine heatwaves of global significance have had substantial ecological and economic impacts along the world coastlines. It is hoped that while the research outputs will have strong relevance to Western Australia outputs will also be relevant to other fishery and aquaculture industries, and the marine research community generally.
Deep-diving French Expedition - UNSEEN organization
Banda Sea, Indonesia
The Foundation partly funded an expedition, headed by National Geographic Explorer, Alexis Chappuis, to perform 25 deep dives around the Banda Sea in Indonesia. These are challenging dives between 100m and 140m in water depth with the aim of collecting unique images of mesophotic fishes and corals and collect specimens. The image analysis is still being undertaken but it is likely that they will confirm first observations of certain species in Indonesia as well as depth range extensions for species as well.
This is important research as little is known about deeper water coral systems in this part of the world notwithstanding it being at the heart of the Coral Triangle. There is also a real and imminent threat to deep reef ecosystems in this region due to a rapid increase in dive tourism, notably the liveaboard industry. Much damage is resulting from anchors and anchor chains to fragile ecology.
The Foundation is considering follow-up funding for future expeditions and research in this region.
Exmouth Gulf - Support for 'Protect Ningaloo' Campaign
Coral Sea Foundation
James Taylor; Kemper Shaw, Neil Rae & Family/Barefoot Holdings; Rod Jones/Hoperidge
2019 - 2022
Given the exceptional diversity of Exmouth Gulf's marine and coastal ecosystems the Foundation, with
generous support from the other significant contributors listed above, committed to a substantial funding
over a three year period towards the 'Protect Ningaloo' campaign. This is focused on attempting to get the State
Government to create a protected conservation precinct over the Gulf. This campaign, overseen by the
Australian Marine Conservation Society, has succeeded in preventing a proposed industrial development
at Heron Point from proceeding in the southwest portion of the Gulf. Further developments are being proposed that will likely jeopardize the Gulf's ecology if allowed to proceed.
While more research need to be undertaken it is likely that Exmouth Gulf is a major recruitment location for many of the species that occur in the Ningaloo Reef, a designated World Heritage Property.
Dr Andy Lewis
Support 2019 to 2023
The aim of Dr Andy Lewis's Foundation is to raise awareness of the ecological and social value the Coral Sea and Eastern Coral Triangle, and to be proactive in its sustainable management. This region contains the last great reservoir of ultra-diverse coral reef in the world, yet most of it is remote and rarely visited, and is in urgent need of our assistance.
Combining an ethos of science, gender equality and sustainability, the Coral Sea Foundation works with the traditional owners to develop marine reserves that enhance fisheries and ecotourism resources, while improving the basic quality of life of people in remote Melanesian villages.
Sea Woman of Melanesia
Whale Shark Satellite Tagging Programme - Shark Bay
Brad Norman & ECOCEAN Inc.
In conjunction with the University of Western Australia
2012, 2016, 2018, 2019 & 2023
Ecocean’s work has increased the current knowledge of whale sharks, contributed to their gaining greater protection under Commonwealth and International legislation and generally raised awareness for the conservation concerns facing this species at a global level.
In January 2016 four satellite tags deployed on whale sharks off Dirk Hartog Island, WA. The aim was to access the scientific evidence for a whale shark hotspot at the Shark Bay World Heritage Area (SBWHA) and investigate the movement and migration patterns of the whale sharks found there.
In January 2018 a new survey saw 4 tags successfully deployed. In 2019 two satellite tags were deployed in January.
Whale shark South Passage Shark Bay 2008 Photo J Clough
Whale shark Josie South Passage 2010 Photo J Clough
Successful tag. Jan 2019 Shark Bay Photo B. Norman
Whale shark 'Cliff' near Monkey Rock Shark Bay Jan 2019 Photo B. Norman
Prof. Daniel Pauly - University of British Columbia
University of Western Australia - Oceans Institute & Prof. Jessica Meeuwig & the Centre for Marine Futures
Mr James Taylor and Mr Kemper Shaw
2017 to 2022
FishBase is one of the most important tools available to marine biologists, whether working in fisheries, aquaculture or conservation. It is the world's most comprehensive database on fish. At present FishBase covers more than 33,000 fish species compiled from more than 52,000 references in partnership with more than 2,000 collaborators. It identifies commonly used names of all species (> 300,000) and has over 55,000 pictures. As an indication of its scientific usage and importance there are 2138 direction citations of FishBase.
The Foundation made a significant five-year cornerstone financial commitment in 2017 which together with additional financial support from Messrs Taylor & Shaw has enabled the University of Western Australia to become a leading collaborator in this globally significant database and one of the half a dozen members of the FishBase Consortium. The constitution of the Consortium was drafted by FAO lawyers as a non-commercial database available to all nations' governments, corporations and persons.
Prof. Daniel Pauly commented that UWA's initiative and support at this time spearheaded and lead the way in garnering additional world-wide financial support for FishBase and '...made a heck of a difference'.
Prof. Daniel Pauly
Exmouth Gulf - Marine and Coastal Survey
Mangroves on south-east corner of Exmouth Gulf
North-west mangrove sea snake, Ephalapholis greyi, Giralia Bay, Exmouth Gulf Photo: Dr Helen Penrose
Dr Ben Fitzpatrick et.al.
The Foundation has supported an extensive marine and terrestrial study of the south-west portion of Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. This study was prompted by proposed new infrastructure developments at this unique location which has had very little scientific assessment of its ecological uniqueness and value. The completed Report (March 2019) shows Exmouth Gulf contains an exceptional diversity of marine and coastal habitats including coastal samphire wetlands, subterranean karst limestone waterways, modern coral reefs, seagrass beds, cyanobacterial mats, macroalgae dominated subtidal reef flats, intertidal sand flats, soft coral and sponge beds, oyster beds, undisturbed islands and sandy beaches. Moreover, the Report demonstrates that Exmouth Gulf has many of the most globally threatened marine and coastal habitats. Such habitats of the Exmouth Gulf support a highly diverse, abundant, unique and productive ecosystem of >1800 species of invertebrate and vertebrate fauna.
The Trustees visited and camped at the location in late 2018 and it became clear that this special location faces increasing threats from anthropogenic activities. We agree with Dr Fitzpatrick that it is a unique location that should be listed in its entirety as a World Heritage property and zoned a marine park, with sanctuary zones over the east coast of the Gulf and the Bay of Rest region; and merged with the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area. This will help preserve this amazing marine wilderness into the future.
A full copy of the Report is available through contacting the Foundation:
'Exmouth Gulf, north Western Australia: A review of environmental values and baseline scientific survey of the south western region.' Fitzpatrick, B., Davenport, A., Penrose, H., Gardner, S., Hart, C., Morgan, A., Twiggs, E., Gillis, R., Fennell, B., D’Anastasi, B., Willems, A., Dickie, J., Taylor, M., and Langlois, T. (March 2019)
Mangrove lobster, Thalassina squamifera, recorded during 2018 survey Photo: Andrew Davenport
Dr Luke Thomas
UWA Oceans Institute & Australian Institute of Marine Science
This research project is seeking to develop a mechanistic and predictive understanding of
thermal tolerance in corals. the research will be carried out at the Rowley Shoals which are and
offshore coral reef system comprised of three atoll-like reefs. Coral populations within the lagoons
experience more extreme temperature fluctuations than adjacent reef slope populations and show
elevated levels of thermal tolerance. Through an innovative genomic approach, this project seeks to
take advantage of these extreme fine-scale environmental gradients in temperature to identify
core regions of the genome under selection for thermal tolerance.
Understanding shark bite-offs in north-west Western Australia
Jonathan Mitchell PhD & The University of Western Australia
Support in 2015 and 2016
Angler reports suggest shark bite-offs are increasing in occurrence during recreational fishing across
north-west Western Australia, reducing the enjoyment of fishing, costing fishers money through lost or
damaged gear and causing substantial loss of target fish species and potential injury or death to sharks
Jonathan Mitchell (UWA) worked with Recfishwest, the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Parks
and Wildlife to investigate the patterns and processes behind shark bite-offs.
Jonathon had his research published as 'Quantifying shark depredation in a recreational fishery in
the Ningaloo Marine Park and Exmouth Gulf' J.D.Mitchell et. al. Mar Ecol Prog Ser Vol. 587: 141-157,
1. Supporting Dr Ben Fitzpatrick of Oceanwise Australia in early 2018 with his involvement with the
IUCN Pacific Mangrove Initiative.
2. Supporting Prof. Jessica Meeuwig and the University of Western Australia's Centre for Marine Futures
with 'The Great West Ozzie Transect'. The Foundation is supporting this project with its scientific
surveys off Shark Bay, Western Australia.
3. Dr Harriet Paterson and the Marine Plastics Research group within the Centre of Excellence in Natural
Resource Management at The University of Western Australia – Albany Centre
4. In conjunction with the Metal Group and the Australian Children’s Trust for the Environment an important
trial program was undertaken in 2013 - and encouraging results obtained - to evaluate how un-manned
aerial drones could undertake effective fisheries surveillance and monitoring in Palau. Palau has a vast
area encompassed within its economic exclusion zone and historically many issues related to illegal
fishing within this area.
5. Funding two eminent speakers to University of Western Australia:
a. Prof. Michael Crawford, Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry & Human Nutrition at the
Imperial College, London. Discussion focused on the value and necessity of fish to the health
of the human brain.
b. Dr Larry Madin, Vice President Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Discussion on
technological advances in marine science.
6. Supporting Ben Ford of the University of Western Australia with his program of monitoring the artificial
reefs in Geographe Bay, Western Australia.
7. Supporting Sonja Pascho's research to better understand an ecosystems productivity and carrying capacity. This has particular emphasis on aquaculture locations.