A cooperative research center based in Townsville, Australia, has completed almost 6 yrs of applied and strategic research, education, and extension in support of conservation and ecologically sustainable use of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. One cornerstone of its success
has been the involvement of scientists, representatives from industry, and managers in project development, conduct, and knowledge transfer. Another cornerstone is its interdisciplinary mix of research themes: socioeconomic, technological, and biophysical. We are documenting where, when, and
how people currently perceive, use, and benefit from the World Heritage Area and its resources, and how these may change under various future scenarios. We are seeking cost-effective ways for users to meet regulations on structures and wastewater and ballast-water disposal intended to protect
the environment. This is done through a combination of critical assessments of the perceived hazard and development of guidelines that reflect that hazard. We are working to evaluate our network of no-take areas in terms of capacity to protect biodiversity and enhance regional fish stocks.
We are commencing a parallel socioeconomic impact assessment to look at the effects of different options for closures on fishing communities. Since we will never be able to do biodiversity surveys over more than a small percentage of the entire World Heritage Area, we are developing geographic
and physical surrogates to help define 'bioregions' to support planning for the distribution and size of no-take zones. We are linking with catchment scientists to assess the extent of cumulative and individual extreme runoff events. We are using spatial risk-assessment tools to map risks
and return periods of impact on coral reefs by unmanageable and/or natural impacts such as floods, cyclones, and crown-of-thorns starfish. One of the major lessons learned has been that the involvement of research users in the research process has improved 'ownership' of the results of the
research, and thus its capacity to effect social change in policy and management areas.
The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.