Finalists at Territory Natural Resource Management Awards

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A big congratulations to the team at the Darwin Aquaculture Centre (DAC) and Dr Shane Penny from Fisheries, who have been named as finalists at the Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM) Awards to be held in November.

The DAC was nominated for the Research in Natural Resource Management Award for their research and development of tropical rock oyster aquaculture in remote Aboriginal communities.

The project is working with Aboriginal communities on-country oyster farms as viable and culturally appropriate businesses that can provide beneficial economic and employment opportunities. This provides new industry developmenth1ased on local resource use, resulting in wellbeing benefits for local people.

The coordinated research and development effort has spanned nine years, resulting in advances in a number of key areas, including: black-lip oyster hatchery production, oyster grow-out systems for tropical conditions and remote communities, wild spat collection, shellfish quality assurance monitoring protocols, socio-cultural studies regarding the significance of gender roles within community as it relates to oyster farming, and studies into suitable managerial and governance arrangements that align farmers with traditional ownership of sea country.

A significant outcome was the recent delivery of 90,000 black-lip oyster spat from the Darwin Aquaculture Centre hatchery to the Warruwi community on South Goulburn Island: providing enough oysters for the Warruwi community to go beyond small scale oyster grow-out trials, and begin to develop an emerging commercial scale oyster farming enterprise.

Dr Shane Penny was nominated for methods he developed to quantify the diversity and abundance of reef fishes inside and out of the reef fish protection zones, in a non-lethal way that could withstand the Territory’s harsh conditions.

Dr Penny used Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) and despite the challenges of very large tides, poor water clarity, rough weather and vessel breakdowns, soon found himself with large amounts of underwater video footage to analyse. This represented a particularly time consuming task, that also required specialised staff, well versed in both fish species identification and the computer program used to analyse the footage. Recognising the limitations of this approach Dr Penny, in partnership with Microsoft, came up with a novel idea to develop a solution using Artificial Intelligence to streamline the analytical process.

This collaboration and the research tool that is under development, will be significant at the national and international level. Significant progress has been made to date and this will represents a significant step forward in the processing and analysis of BRUVS footage from areas where water clarity is poor (because of strong wind-driven and/or tidal currents) and there is limited human and financial resources available to interpret the video footage.

TNRM

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