Keeping our waters safe by design

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Eco-engineering in action in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. Photo by John Turnbull

New research is looking into using design principles to reduce marine pests. These pests threaten our unique coastal environments, industries, and social amenities.

The potential damage from marine pests is severe and they threaten our biosecurity. It is cheaper and more effective to prevent pests spreading than to remove or manage the pest once it is here.

Manmade structures like wharfs and seawalls can act as steppingstones for marine pests to establish and spread. Principle Researcher Dr Nina Schaefer sees eco-engineering as one answer to this big problem.

Eco-engineering incorporates ecological principles in the design of marine infrastructure. This improves the management of coastal environments,’ says Dr Nina Schaefer.

‘Our research indicates that we may be able to reduce the prevalence of certain marine pests by changing design factors. These factors include smoothness or brightness of underwater structures.’

‘The design changes also enhance native species use of infrastructure,’ Dr Schaefer said.

The project will look at how light influences marine life colonising underwater surfaces. Designers and users of marine infrastructure will receive the research findings. This will encourage the uptake of eco-engineering in marine development projects.

The research report and webinars series explain the initial findings and research plans.

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