Case Studies

Great Australian Bight Research Program

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) is working with BP, CSIRO,  the University of Adelaide and Flinders University on a 4 year, $20 million research program to improve our understanding of the environmental, economic and social value of the Great Australian Bight.

The challenge

The Great Australian Bight is a unique marine environment and an area of high conservation significance. More than 85% of known species in the region are found nowhere else in the world.

Along with diverse wildlife, including whales and great white sharks, the region produces 25% of Australia’s seafood production by value, including:

  • Southern Bluefin Tuna,
  • Abalone
  • Southern Rock Lobster
  • Australia’s largest commercial fishery by volume, the South Australian Sardine Fishery.

The Great Australian Bight has been identified as prospective for oil and gas, an important Australian industry. In 2011, BP was granted 4 exploration permits in the Bight and the region has the potential to become a major oil field.

The solution

To prepare for sustainable future development, BP has chosen to collaborate with some of Australia’s pre-eminent science institutions to enhance everyone’s understanding of this vast expanse of ocean and its surrounds. The aim of the program is to undertake the first integrated study of this entire ecosystem.

The Great Australian Bight Research Program covers 16 major projects spanning seven themes: 

  • Oceanography
  • Open Water Research
  • Sea Floor Biodiversity
  • Apex Predators
  • Petroleum Systems 
  • Socio-economic Analysis
  • Integration and Modelling

The outcome

"This program forged between industry and science is delivering one of the largest whole-of ecosystem studies every undertaken in Australia."

Undertaking such an extensive and complex ecosystem benchmarking program is being observed with interest by industry, governments and research organisations around the world.

Information from the research program will be used to develop quantitative models of the structure and dynamics of the bight’s ecosystem.

Results will be publically available for use by all stakeholders interested in the region, including Commonwealth and State Government regulators, other commercial operators, academics, environmental groups and the general community.

New era of marine research in the Great Australian Bight

Dr Steve Lapidge (PDF 96.6 KB)
Great Australian Bight Research Director
Phone: +61 8 8303 9616

Top of page