Extreme climate events are exacerbating the impact of climate change in Australian marine ecosystems causing, in some cases, irreversible change underscoring the importance of adaptation and innovative solutions in the marine environment.
Researchers at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have for the first-time collated published works by leading researchers of climate impacts around the whole of Australia’s coast to reveal that around 45 per cent of our coastal marine ecosystems have suffered from the impact of climate extremes.
The study was published in Frontiers in Marine Science.
Marine heatwaves, heavy rainfall from tropical storms, cyclones and droughts have all played a role in fundamentally changing our coral, kelp, mangrove and seagrass communities.
RIGHT: Some bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef.
“The length of coast impacted by extreme climate events in the last decade is more than 8000 km, almost four times the length of coastline impacted by the much better known Gulf of Mexico oil spill,” lead author of the study Dr Russ Babcock said.
“Corals, kelp, mangrove and seagrass ecosystems provide important habitat and food for thousands of biodiverse marine creatures, plus make vital contributions to the biotic productivity and resource economy of coastal habitats and nearby towns and cities.
“We’ve already seen major climate events rock these marine food webs and create changes that will take decades to fully recover from.
“Some of them are potentially irreversible.”
The CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere research team have studied events like the 2011 Western Australian marine heatwave, the 2016 and 2017 back-to-back coral bleaching events and major cyclones like Cyclone Yasi to paint a full picture of the accumulated impact of extreme climate events.
Ecosystem modelling approaches have also been used to reveal the likely scale of these impacts into the future.
They found that ongoing human-induced climate change, such as gradual increases of sea surface temperature, are exacerbated by extreme climate events which leave most marine organisms and habitats unable to acclimatise or adapt in rapidly changing habitats.
CSIRO Senior Researcher and paper co-author Dr Beth Fulton said that if extreme climate events occur more often and are more intense marine habitat recovery is unlikely to occur.
“Our modelling indicates that the average recovery time for major species groups is around 10 to 15 years. If climate shocks happen more often than this, then ecosystems may never fully recover,” Dr Fulton said.
Different types of extreme climate events can also happen concurrently or one after the other, creating additional pressures for marine ecosystems.
“In February 2011 Cyclone Yasi destroyed swathes of seagrass meadows along the north Queensland coast. When the associated flooding reached the sea the turbid and nutrient rich waters blocked sunlight preventing growth of any remaining seagrasses,” Dr Babcock said.
Dr Babcock and colleagues have been working across Australia’s marine ecosystems to understand climate impacts and strategies for effective adaptation.
“Adaptation responses will be required at species and ecosystem scales,” he said.
“Our research, for example in developing new methods for restoring coral reefs, may be one way to help maintain ecosystems.
“We have developed industrial scale methods to harvest coral spawn, grow it out in at-sea aquaculture systems and redistribute across damaged reefs.
“This is one example of a flexible and adaptable strategy that can be used to help reefs recover in the short term.
“But in the long-term adaptation efforts will need to be coupled with efforts to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases that drive climate change.”
Climate impacts on four major marine ecosystems
Coral habitats are home to more than 83,000 animal and plant species, and are susceptible to diminishing water quality, overfishing, construction, warming oceans and ocean acidification.
Between 2011 and 2017 coral reefs along thousands of kilometers of Australia’s west and east coasts were affected by four separate coral bleaching events. Mortality of corals in WA was as high as 90 per cent in some places while in the north of the GBR average coral cover declined by around 50 per cent.
Kelp forests are important marine habitats and sources of food, kelps are threatened by overfishing, eutrophication and climate change.
During the 2011 Western Australian marine heatwave several species of kelp became locally extinct depriving important fishery species of habitat, they are unlikely to recover in the foreseeable future
Seagrasses stabilise sediments, store carbon, feed turtles and dugongs and provide habitat for fish, invertebrates and birds, many of which are economically important.
Following the 2011 Queensland floods and seagrass loss there was a marked rise in the number of turtle and dugongs found stranded which has been linked to the decline in food availability.
Mangrove ecosystems support fish and fisheries in northern Australia through providing shelter and a stable substrate for plants and animals, as well as protecting low-lying coastlines.
During summer 2015-16 over 1000km of mangrove forest died around the Gulf of Carpentaria, home to one of Australia’s most valuable fisheries, leaving this otherwise pristine ecosystem severely damaged.
Economic modelling undertaken by CEDA in its latest research report has found that immigration to Australia has not harmed the jobs and earnings of local workers.
CEDA’s report, Effects of temporary migration, examines the impact of immigration and recent trends in temporary migration including temporary skilled migration, CEDA CEO, Melinda Cilento said.
“There are currently around two million people in Australia on temporary visas including students, working holiday makers, skilled workers and New Zealand citizens. This is a significant number that should be well understood, transparently managed and appropriately factored into community planning,” she said.
“CEDA’s report has found that migration to Australia in recent decades has been positive for the labour market, and the outcomes from temporary skill migration were particularly positive,” Ms Cilento said.
“CEDA’s analysis shows that temporary skilled migration is critical in delivering benefits to business, the economy more broadly and to the existing workforce.
“However, concerns about the impacts of temporary skilled migration have been raised consistently resulting in frequent changes to the scheme, including most recently the abolition of the 457 visa class.
“Our research has found that key concerns around temporary skilled migration, such as impacts on local workers as a result of visas such as the 482 and its predecessor the 457, are unfounded.
“The average base salary for a skilled temporary visa holder is quite high at $95,000, meaning these workers are unlikely to undercut local employment terms and conditions.
“In addition, they are a small group, with temporary skilled migrants of working age accounting for less than one per cent of Australia’s labour force.
“However, often unpredictable change to this visa category has come at the cost of undermining the ability of business to undertake workforce planning with certainty.
“At a time when more businesses are finding it difficult to source the skills they need, strengthening and providing greater transparency and certainty around temporary skilled migration would support business investment and productivity.
“Temporary migrants also contribute to the economy by paying taxes and spending in the communities in which they live, increasing demand for goods and services and supporting local economic activity and jobs.”
Ms Cilento said while CEDA’s research confirms the positive impact of temporary skilled migration it was important to ensure that the broader community had confidence in the system and that the training levies paid by businesses recruiting skilled migrants were being effectively used to build in demand skills locally.
“CEDA’s report recommends changes to improve transparency and efficiency in the temporary skilled migration system to deliver the dual benefits of improving community confidence in the system and ensuring business can access the skills they need,” she said.
“Skilled migration supports business investment and productivity which are vital for keeping our economy strong.
“Incomes in Australia have been stagnant and lifting productivity can help lift incomes across the community.”
Ms Cilento said there are actions that can be taken immediately to improve the system and make it easier for businesses to get the skills they need now and in the future:
Increasing transparency of data and methods used in determining professions for the skilled occupation list;
Ensuring occupation codes used to assess skill shortages align with evolving labour trends to ensure temporary skilled migration is responsive to emerging skill needs;
Introducing a dedicated path for intra-company transfer of employees to Australia; and
Better aligning the Skilling Australia Fund Levy to alleviate the skill shortages driving the need for skilled migration.
“If CEDA’s recommendations are implemented, the system will be more responsive to the needs of the economy. It will also reduce reliance on low quality instruments like labour market testing to ensure that genuine skills shortages are being filled,” she said.
Ms Cilento said as a mid-sized economy far away from global markets, the importance to our economic success of free movement of goods, services, investment and skills can’t be understated.
“Australia will continue to need temporary skilled migration to fill periodic and emerging skill shortages,” she said.
“We need to make it easier for business to import the best global talent and expertise, and Australia’s temporary skilled migration system is our gateway for global talent.
“Temporary migration also lifts the skills of the broader workforce through the transfer of knowledge and expertise and by introducing new skills, in some instances enabling Australia to build critical new workforces, for example the growing cyber security industry in Australia.”
Additional recommendations in CEDA’s report include:
Establishing an independent committee to undertake analysis and consultation on the formulation of skilled occupation lists, mirroring the model used in the UK.
Tasking the Productivity Commission with a review of the temporary skilled visa program on a regular cycle every three or five years.
Moving the point of levy collection to the visa approval stage rather than visa nomination.
“Improving predictability of the scheme and increasing understanding among the wider community of the benefits to all Australians, will help deliver a fair and efficient system,” she said.
Ms Cilento said other key findings of the report include that only 16 per cent of those on student visas stay permanently, while temporary skilled visas have provided a de facto path to permanent residency for a significant proportion of those migrants.
“This ‘try before you buy’ approach to permanent residency is a positive for the individual and Australia,” she said.
“Both the individual and the employer have the opportunity to see if the ‘fit’ is right before making a longer term decision.
“Recent changes to the 482 visa, previously the 457 visa, may have disrupted this de facto pipeline and it will be worth monitoring the impact this has on the quality of temporary skilled visa holders over coming years.”
The launch of this report will be followed by events across Australia on the following dates:
Sydney 23 July | Melbourne 24 July | Adelaide 26 July | Brisbane 31 July | Perth 31 July
Seniors across the Mulgoa electorate will benefit from a cash boost to the 2020 NSW Seniors Festival, encouraging them to get active, socialise, learn new skills and connect with services.
Member for Mulgoa Tanya Davies announced a total of $200,000 is available for local organisations helping them to deliver events that celebrate seniors.
“The NSW Seniors Festival is growing from strength to strength and celebrates the vital contributions seniors make to the community.” Tanya Davies said.
“Festival events are designed to get our seniors involved in art courses, active sports, playing music, tapping into technology, and travel.”
“We are always looking to support events that offer unique and engaging activities. We love bringing younger and older generations together with these innovative projects that promote healthy ageing.”
Minister for Seniors John Sidoti said the NSW Seniors Festival is the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere and has been running for more than 61 years.
“The grants program ensures seniors from areas right across the state have the opportunity to participate in the festival,” Mr Sidoti said.
“Providing funding to a range of organisations means we can reach a broad range of individuals, including those from regional and remote areas, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal communities.”
The 2020 NSW Seniors Festival wall take place from Wednesday, 12 February – Sunday, 23 February 2020.
Applications are now open and close on Friday, 9 August 2019. For more information or to apply visit: www.seniorsfestival.nsw.gov.au/events/nsw-seniors-festival-grants
To celebrate NIDA’s 60th anniversary, NIDA Open has committed $25,000 worth of complimentary tuition for young people who are experiencing barriers to participation in the arts, including financial or other disadvantages.
The NIDA Open Equity Scholarships are available throughout the 2019 Spring holiday program period and are open to all secondary school-aged students nationally, regardless of previous experience or professional ambition.
Applications can be made by individuals or by an organisation on behalf of a young person identified as a suitable scholarship applicant.
NIDA Open incorporates the rigorous, practice-led NIDA training methods into its courses, within a committed and supportive environment to allow young people to achieve their full creative potential. The scholarships can be accessed for every course offered across the country from Darwin to Adelaide, from Sydney to Melbourne. Nearly 50 young creatives will have to chance to grow and expand their talent through the NIDA Equity Scholarship program.
‘These scholarships improve access to acting and creative development education for all young Australians,’ said Tricia Ryan, Head of NIDA Open. ‘Our scholarship winners don’t all have previous performing arts experience but what they do have is a strong desire to bring inspirational, practical performing arts training into their life.’
Lily Matthews (pictured above), a young Quandamooka teenager originally from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) was fortunate to win a scholarship to support her place in Darwin in 2018.
‘NIDA has inspired me to take up drama as a subject at school in year 11 and 12 because I feel more confident in script development. I would also like to join a theatre group and participate in more acting classes and audition for shows, movies and musicals in the future.’
Applications for the NIDA Open Equity Scholarships are open until 26 July. The winners will be announced on 23 August, with courses starting on 23 September.
For more information and how to nominate yourself or a studenthttps://www.open.nida.edu.au/scholarships
The 2019 Sydney Film Prize goes too...Bong Joon-ho's Parasite!
Fresh from winning the biggest prize at Cannes, the renowned Korean director was awarded Sydney Film Festival's prestigious top prize (and $60,000 cash), competing with a selection of 12 Official Competition films.
“This Festival is really amazing, especially the audience…really special and extraordinary," Director Bong said, accepting the award at the State Theatre. "This is the most meaningful prize for me – in this beautiful city and beautiful theatre, and one of the most beautiful audiences in the world.”
Indigenous director Erica Glynn was awarded the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary's $10,000 cash prize for She Who Must Be ObeyedLoved, a celebration of the life of her mother, the trailblazing Indigenous filmmaker Alfreda Glynn.
Charles Williams took out both the $7000 cash prize for the Dendy Live Action Short Award, and the $7000 Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director, in the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films, for All These Creatures, which also won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes. The $5000 Yoram Gross Animation Award went to Lee Whitmore’sSohrab and Rustum.
The Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award, a $5000 prize for the best short screenwriting, was awarded to Michael Hudson and Ties That Bind, for its narrative simplicity and complex perspective on family violence. Victoria Hunt’s film Take received a Special Mention for its weaving of found material and dance into a powerful story about the repatriation of stolen Indigenous art.
The $10,000 Sydney-UNESCO City of Film Award, bestowed by Create NSW to a trail-blazing NSW-based screen practitioner, went to Darren Dale and Rachel Perkins of Blackfella Films, with Deborah Mailman presenting the award to filmmaker Rachel Perkins.
Congratulations to all of the winners and all of the finalists! And our thanks to you, the audience, for making this the biggest Sydney Film Festival ever – we look forward to seeing you in 2020 for another huge Festival!