Will a 'healthy' ocean be the same in the future be the same as in the past?
Could WA be a hub for forecasting the dynamics and conditions in marine systems?
What ‘healthy’, ‘sustainable’ means for an ocean or in a specific situation differ. Differing: baselines, perceptions of risk, models of system dynamics and site-specific factors can mean discussion, prediction and goal-setting challenging.
Transparent, trusted data and information can shift the attention from disagreement to alignment, from data collection to decisions and action. Trusted data also enables better measurement, modelling, prediction and learning as we can better correlate or causally relate actions to effects.
This is the case in WA, where we both collect data and interpret it for decisions, e.g. meteorology, oceanography, tsunami warning systems, and forecasting rock lobster fisheries catches. Several WA institutions are also developing globally-relevant forecasting and prediction capability e.g. Minderoo’s Global Fishing Index and WA Ocean Foundation’s Ocean Health Trust Platform.
Environmental changes are moving outside the envelope of historic variation and ecosystems vulnerable to irreversible state changes.
Developing modelling, forecasting and foresight capability of both ecological and human systems is a need, globally.
There are barriers to collecting data, and also sharing it within and across sectors and jurisdictions.
Ocean observation and forecasting is, in itself, an identified industry in the United States worth $7 billion USD and estimated to employ more than 200,000 people.
While WA has growing capability in this area, our specific marine-science capacity is limited. And, for a range of reasons, industry, government and academics don’t always want to share all the available data.
Digital technologies, such as machine learning and AI, can increase capability and capacity. Investing in this oceans-related forecasting may attract talent and collaboration with other disciplines (e.g. data science, social science), again increasing marine-relevant capability.
There is a need for this globally, and so an export opportunity.