UWA Oceans Institute 

December 2016- January 2017

                                                                                In this issue:
                                                                       Recent Achievements
                                                                 Member Articles
                                                         Video Highlights


Oceans Online delivers a monthly source of the latest marine research news from The UWA Oceans Institute.  

The UWA Oceans Institute is advancing multidisciplinary research knowledge to support the delivery of ocean solutions by addressing grand challenges. 

Latest News from the Oceans Institute 

Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Crawley Facility
The University is pleased to announce Professor Erika Techera as the new Director of the UWA Oceans Institute.

Since joining UWA in 2012, Professor Techera has been an active member of the UWA Oceans Institute. She teaches and researches on a range of international and comparative environmental law issues, including good environmental governance and cultural heritage law and policy at both the global and regional levels. Her specific interests focus on oceans, governance, marine environmental law, marine protected area law and policy as well as sustainable development and community-based marine management in small island states. She has published and presented widely in these and other areas. 

As the new UWA Oceans Institute Director, Professor Techera is dedicated to facilitating multi-disciplinary research, including 
strengthening engagement and broadening membership of the Oceans Institute both within UWA and with external partners.

"Much has already been achieved by the UWA Oceans Institute members working collaboratively with individual researchers and partner institutions. In 2017 we will work to advance existing arrangements and build new effective linkages". 

The completion of the new state-of-the-art Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre (IOMRC) provides an exciting and unique opportunity that brings together over 240 researchers and partners, CSIRO, AIMS and the Department of Fisheries. One of Professor Techera's priorities will be to ensure that maximum research benefits are achieved by the co-location of staff from these partner organisations.

Professor Techera is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and member of a number of associations including the International Bar Association (IBA), International Law Association (ILA) and the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law and World Commission on Protected Areas. Prior to joining UWA in 2012 she held a variety of academic positions including as Director of the Centre for International & Environmental Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Climate Futures at Macquarie University and worked as a barrister in Sydney.

Professor Techera has commenced her new role as The UWA Oceans Institute Director from the 1st January 2017.
 Winner of the UWA OI Postgraduate Video Award for Best Storyboard, 
Mirjam van der Mheen for "Wilson's Journey"

The results of the UWA Oceans Institute 2016 OI Student Video Competition were announced at the opening of the Woodside FutureLab OceanWorks late last year. Congratulations to all the students who submitted their work for consideration to the judges and to the following winners in their chosen categories: 
Best Storyboard:
1st prize: Mirjam van der Mheen, "Wilson's journey"
2nd prize: Claire Ross, "Coral Reefs in a Changing World"

Best Cinematography:
1st prize: Belinda Martin, "Seagrass rhizospheres"
2nd Prize: Justin Geldard-Ker, "The Measurement and Application of Surface Waves in the Swan River, Wester Australia"

People's choice:
1st prize:  Fernando Perez and Temi Kuteyi, "Problems into Opportunities;  Boil-Off Gas and Natural Gas Hydrates. || Striving for Cost effective LNG in Offshore LNG Production Systems "
2nd Prize: Belinda Martin, "Seagrass rhizospheres"
The videos are available to view on the Ocean's Institute YouTube Channel:
A special thank you to Gundula Winter who was instrumental in organising this year's competition. Gundala has done an outstanding job as the Postgraduate Representative for The Oceans Institute over the past two years, integrating both her passions for marine science and science communication. Gundula recently attended the CommOcean 2016 conference in Bruges where she presented her case study, "Encouraging Science Communication at a Postgraduate Level".  

As mentioned above, OceanWorks officially opened at the end of last year. OceanWorks is a collaboration between Woodside FutureLab and The University of Western Australia, located within the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre. This is a vibrant new space aiming to bring together industry and academia to share and spark new innovations advancing industry impact and delivering science and research outcomes associated with Ocean Engineering. 

The Pilbara Marine Science Symposium, held at CSIRO, Floreat in October 2016 was an overwhelming success, attracting as many as 80 participants from various institutions and providing a great overview of the status of marine research in the Pilbara. The Pilbara Marine Science Partnership (PMSP) would like to acknowledge the Gorgon Joint Venture for funding support administered via the Net Conservation Benefit (NCB) which made this research possible. The presentations from the Symposium can now be viewed online at

Our member’s profile this month features our new Director Professor Erika Techera, discussing her passionate approach to multi-disciplanry research which covers environmental law, marine science, energinerring, social science and other disciplines.
Enjoy our summer edition of Oceans Online. We look forward to an engaging and rewarding 2017 and bringing you the latest news from our dynamic research community.

Newsletter Articles

Climate Change

The third global bleaching event took its toll on Western- Australia's super-corals. 

Verena Schoepf, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at The University of Western Australia has recently released her research indicating coral reefs in WA's northwest have experienced unprecedented bleaching and coral death after the world's third mass bleaching event.

The unique coral reefs off Western Australia's northwest are home to some of the toughest coral in the world yet have not been able to withstand the hottest year on record.

Read More

Latest Research

Whale shark mugshots reveal teenage males hang around WA's coast 

Male juvenile whalesharks don't like to venture too far from home according to new research by The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute PhD researcher Samantha Andrzejaczek.  The joint research conducted by the UWA Oceans Institute and the Australian Institute of Marine Science involved a large scale photo- identification study to assess the seasonal habits of whale sharks in the tropics.

Every year in March juvenile male whale sharks arrive at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, supporting a thriving tourism industry. But where do they go in July once they leave this meeting site?

Read More

OI Member Profile

Professor Erika Techera

Professor Erika Techera commences her role as the Director  of The Oceans Institute this month. 

Erika's current research explores the international governance arrangements to sharks, Indigenous customary marine management and marine environmental governance around the Indian Ocean rim. In addition, Erika is exploring legal frameworks to support marine protected areas and marine spatial planning. 

Importance of Your Research
My research crosses a number of environmental law areas focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of ocean species and environments. I have just completed an ARC Discovery Project – together with Professor Natalie Klein at Macquarie University - investigating the international governance of sharks. Law and policy, however, cannot achieve outcomes by themselves and so my research involves the intersection of social science, marine scientific research, engineering and other disciplines. My shark research, for example, has involved engaging with marine scientists including fisheries experts, conservation researchers, not-for-profit groups, tourism operators, sustainable enterprise experts, as well as social scientists working on attitudes towards sharks and laws to protect them. One of my current projects addresses illegal fishing. I am working with a UWA criminologist, Dr Jade Lindley, as well as investigating how forced labour facilitates illegal fishing and how remote sensing technology can be utilised to monitor remote ocean areas. I am also working with a number of Oceans Institute colleagues on engineering and legal solutions for in situ decommissioning of offshore infrastructure.

Importance of Collaboration and Communication
Collaboration is an essential component of multi-disciplinary research. As I have said above, my work involves working with others within and beyond the discipline of law. Within the legal field powerful lessons can be learned from other areas where tools and mechanisms have been successfully applied. Although there is no guarantee of success when applied to a different problem, legal options developed elsewhere can be added to the regulatory ‘toolbox’. Working with other disciplines is also important because we need to ensure that law and policy embeds knowledge acquired in other fields. For example, as we learn more about shark biology and ecology, law and policy must respond. In this context, good communication is critical and frequently a challenge when undertaking multi-disciplinary work. Words and phrases used by various disciplines and sectors are often similar but have very different meanings. Opening up and maintaining dialogues, between disciplines but also with different sectors such as industry and government, is therefore essential. Finally, I believe that communication with the public must be enhanced. If we are to improve environmental indicators then all elements of society need to understand the challenges, solutions and the part they can play. For example, engaging children and youth, community groups, Indigenous and traditional peoples including elders, starts with communication and therefore I am committed to ensuring that the work that I do is accessible to a range of people – not just academics and experts. 

Most Memorable Experience in the Field
Unlike marine scientific research, legal research has historically not involved much fieldwork. This is changing however, and increasingly investigators working to enhance law and policy do engage in empirical work including interviews with government and end users. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage in this type of work and have travelled to small island states and worked with Indigenous and local peoples. This certainly opened my eyes to the importance of context when developing law and policy – what works in one community or society may not be effective in another. One of the most interesting experiences I had was to meet with the Chief and community members at Chief Roi Mata’s domain – a world heritage area in Vanuatu including an island and mainland sites ( I gained a much greater understanding of what the sites mean to local people, as well as the opportunities and also the challenges of World Heritage listing. From a legal point of view, it was very interesting to learn how state legislation operates (or does not) in an environment where many local people still adhere to customary law and traditional marine management practices.

Video Highlight

Ocean Glider sets sail for Sri Lanka 

An ocean glider christened Challenger has set sail for Sri Lanka in the longest journey ever attempted by an autonomous underwater vehicle. The Challenger Glider Mission will capture and communicate unprecedented undersea data and help determine how changes in currents, temperatures and salinity will effect weather patterns and give scientists a deeper understanding into the mysteries of a changing climate.
Ocean Glider sets sail for Sri Lanka
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