About the Gulf Coast

The Gulf of Carpentaria is a shallow-water tropical sea containing varied and dynamic marine and estuarine habitats, such as mangrove communities, patches of coral reef and seagrass beds which are nursery habitats for commercial fisheries species and internationally significant marine biodiversity. The adjoining coastal area contains high conservation value coastal wetlands which support abundant birdlife, and extensive salt pans which are now being recognised for their unique ecological significance. The Gulf coast has a very high Indigenous population, including three tribes which converge on Normanton, and six tribes which converge on Kowanyama. There are two well established and highly respected Land and Sea Ranger groups, which are the primary delivery mechanism for on ground NRM along the coast. The town of Karumba is the focal point of a thriving tourist economy based on recreational fishing and a port which supports Gulf fisheries and the live export trade.

Our Goals

The health and resilience of the Carpentaria coastline and the south east Gulf of Carpentaria marine environment is maintained. Fish stocks are abundant and diverse and support Indigenous, recreational and commercial fishing sectors into the future, managed through collaborative arrangements which accommodate all users of the natural resource while maintaining the natural and cultural integrity of the environment.
Provide support when enlisted to Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger programs that are based out of Kowanyama and Normanton, for their on ground works programs controlling weeds and pests along the coast, conserving and monitoring biodiversity, and maintaining cultural and ecological assets.

3.1.1 Support the continuation and expansion of the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger marine debris collection and monitoring program on shorelines and beaches, strategically targeted targeting areas of on the basis of higher modelled risk such as Karumba north.

Activities:

When enlisted, provide material and technical support to marine debris initiatives and continued collection of marine debris by Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers on a fee for service basis.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Lands and Natural Resource Management Office
  • Ghostnets Australia;
  • Tangaroa Blue;
Performance Indicators
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In the Gulf Coast, the lead agencies for on ground NRM delivery are two highly successful and well established Indigenous land and sea ranger program which operate out of Normanton and Kowanyama. NGRMG sees itself as a support agency to these programs, who are the primary drivers of NRM investment along the Gulf coast.

This action represents an ongoing commitment to continue the work of Ghostnets Australia in partnership with Normanton and Kowanyama rangers to collect discarded fishing nets.

3.1.2 Support Land and Sea Ranger programs to develop a ranger- delivered environmental and cultural education/interpretation module for tourists and residents to facilitate greater dissemination of cultural/environmental knowledge to visitors and residents.

Activities:

Provide material support to Aboriginal organisations to develop interpretive signage and communication products of on cultural and ecological values of the Gulf Coast.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Lands and Natural Resource Management Office
  • Morr Morr pastoral holdings;
  • Kurtijar Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Alliance of Northern Gulf Indigenous Corporation;
  • Local tourism operators.

Performance Indicators
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This action recognizes the potential to develop more cultural tourism opportunities, taking advantage of both the Indigenous cultural values on the Gulf Coast and the high levels of tourists annually, who can support these initiatives. NGRMG provides in principle support to these activities and where enlisted will attempt to provide additional capacity to their expansion and establishment. The tag-along tours on Delta Downs station provided an excellent example of this.

3.1.3 Support Land and Sea Ranger programs, Carpentaria Shire Council and coastal landholders, through providing mapping support including GIS remote sensing and field based infestation mapping of weeds, prioritising:

  • Rubber vine (cryptostegia grandiflora) in the south east Gulf coastal zone to support strategic control and monitoring of existing management effectiveness;
  • Olive hymenachne (hymenachne amplexicaulis) in the key locations, especially around Normanton, to reduce the risk of spread further into the Gulf plains; and
  • Water hyacinth (eichhornia crassipes), particularly in the Smithburne River and Kowanyama as a matter of urgency;
  • Annually monitor beds, banks and floodplains of major river systems for new and emerging weed pests washed down from the east.

Activities:

Provide GIS support and expertise to Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and the Kowanyama Lands office in mapping the extent of priority weeds.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Lands and Natural Resource Management Office
  • Coastal graziers;
  • Qld Biosecurity;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council.

Performance Indicators
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Indigenous ranger program provide much needed NRM capacity to eradicate problem weeds along the Gulf coast. NGRMG fully supports these efforts and will provide technical support when enlisted, particularly through their mapping and spatial analysis capacities.

The NRM Plan climate change risk matrix for the Gulf coast http://plan.northerngulf.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Coastal-marine-climate-change-risk-matrix.pdf identifies that weed spread could be exacerbated over the coming decades under high to medium confidence climate change scenarios, due to the following reasons:

  • Reduced stability/ integrity of fire sensitive beach foreshore and dune vegetation due to the increased incidence of destructive wild fires;
  • Increased fire incursions into sensitive wetland riparian communities;
  • Greater water based dispersal of basin weed infestations to new lower catchment/ coastal infestation sites due to increased intensity of high rainfall events (floods and cyclones);
  • Greater recruitment of woody weedy species post dry season, due to longer dry periods;
  • Continued warming of temperature, including more hot days may lead to an exceedance of thermal thresholds for some coastal vegetation community plant species- leading to a loss of species and reduced resilience of native vegetation, giving weed species a greater competitive advantage, and promote some weed species sites.
  • An increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration and ocean acidification may lead to woody vegetation growth promoted relative to grassy vegetation promoting woodland thickening.

Therefore, it is very important to support existing on ground NRM capacity of the Indigenous ranger programs to continue to eradicate and control noxious weeds, particularly those predicted to spread under climate change scenarios.

3.1.4 Investigate the possibility of a ghost crab pot removal program from waters adjoining Karumba, with the involvement of fisheries enforcement officers and Land and Sea Ranger programs.

Activities:

Investigate opportunities for co-funding commitment and external investment for the establishment of a ghost crab pot removal programs, potentially managed and implemented by Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Lands and Natural Resource Management Office
  • Ghostnets Australia;
  • Tangaroa Blue;
  • Qld fisheries patrol unit, Karumba.

Performance Indicators
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NGRMG will investigate opportunities to secure seed funding and a feasibility assessment for a ghost crab pot removal program around Karumba, to be outsourced to Indigenous rangers if implemented.

Encourage sectors competing for the fisheries resource (recreational, commercial, Indigenous) within the same areas of the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria marine environment and estuaries to collaborate towards a sustainable management framework which accommodate the needs of all sectors, while developing an evidence base to verify the condition of the fishery and understand the drivers of change in dynamic coastal and marine environments.

3.2.1 Initiate and seek co-funding for the coordination of a community based, deliberative review of fisheries in the south east Gulf of Carpentaria that represents the Indigenous, recreational and commercial fishing sectors.

Activities:

  1. Form a steering committee to oversee a community based, deliberative review of fisheries in the Norman river delta of the south east Gulf of Carpentaria.
  2. Seek co-funding and policy support for a deliberative review of fisheries management;
  3. Design and implement engagement program including all resource users and managers.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • MRAG Asia Pacific;
  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kurtijar Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Gulf of Carpentaria Commercial Fisherman’s Association (GoCCFA);
  • Fishermens Portal;
  • Gulf Savannah Development (GSD);
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • James Cook University;
  • Conservation International;
  • PEW foundation;
  • CSIRO Conservation decision lab (Ecosystems services);
  • Conservation International.
Performance Indicators
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The Gulf fisheries have recently been subject of areview, completed by MRAG Asia Pacific, commissioned (http://www.m2cms.com.au/uploaded/5/takingstockfinalreport.pdf) by the Australian government. NGRMG seeks to build on this foundation through a deliberative stakeholder engagement process focused on the coastal, estuarine and marine environs in direct proximity of the more localized areas of Norman river. This process would identify the types of management initiatives the community and competing sectors wish to see emerge in the Norman river delta and canvas stakeholder groups to support their implementation by Government – e.g. Output controls, quotas, seasonal / area closures / greater surveillance. Government support for this process will be essential for its success.

The NRM Plan climate change risk matrix for the Gulf coast http://plan.northerngulf.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Coastal-marine-climate-change-risk-matrix.pdf identifies that climate change could be impact South east Gulf of Carpentaria fisheries over the coming decades under high to medium confidence scenarios, due to the following reasons:

  • Increased incidence of destructive wild fires could reduce quality nursery habitat associated with intertidal saltmarsh and mangrove fringes;
  • Potentially significant losses of prawn nursery habitat due to cyclonic impacts on sea grass beds and associatedreduction in offshore catches due to increased intensity of high rainfall events;
  • Increased storm surge and rising sea levels could result in a reduction in fisheries productivity reliant in seagrass (and attached algae) either as nursey habitat or for nutrition in adjacent habitats;
  • Longer dry seasons could lead to the late inundation of nursery habitat inundation, flow based productivity pulses and connective flows leading to late and reduced recruitment;
  • Continued warming of temperature including more hot days could reduce:
    1. dissolved oxygen in shallow coastal wetland and upper estuarinenursery habitats decreasing productivity and recruitment levels;
    2. sea grass dependent fishery productivity/ recruitment
    3. Availability and altered distribution of prawn nursery habitats, and decreased growth and survival of targeted prawn species.
  • Increased atmospheric CO2 concentration and ocean acidification will also impact on the marine environment and thus the life and breeding cycles and recruitment of fisheries in the Gulf.

Given these impending pressures on fisheries and their marine and estuarine habitats from climate change, it will be very important for the coastal communities which rely on this resource to manage it as sustainably as possible, requiring a high level of cooperation between commercial, Indigenous and recreational sectors, to ensure that South east Gulf fisheries are as resilient as possible to extreme weather events and climatic conditions.

3.2.2 Review the condition of the fisheries through:

  • Collation of datasets on key species of the inshore fishery, javelin grunter, barramundi and mud crabs, from previous surveys, species specific studies and log book data;
  • Traditional fisher survey programs to quantify the annual and seasonal take by Gulf coastal Indigenous communities; and
  • A cost-benefit analysis of economic and community costs and benefits of both recreation and commercial fishing to the greater Northern Gulf region as well as Karumba.

Activities:

  1. Desktop assessment of evidence base and existing datasets on fishery condition;
  2. Support researchers and Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers to survey and assess the size of the Indigenous take;
  3. Seek funding to commission cost benefit analysis of recreational and commercial fishing industries;
  4. Work closely with WCTTAA to ensure consistency with monitoring data collection and collaboration in sharing knowledge.

Partners:

  • Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kurtijar Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Gulf of Carpentaria Commercial Fisherman’s Association (GoCCFA);
  • Fishermens Portal;
  • Gulf Savannah Development (GSD);
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA);
  • Southern Gulf Catchments;
  • James Cook University;

Performance Indicators
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A dedicated study on Grunter is warranted and is most likely of being supported by DAFF. This review may be a major technical undertaking so partnership with DAFF and research organisations will be essential to providing capacity for realizing this action.

3.2.3 Create a benchmark for a sustainable fishery which utilises all information to create a model that will give a foundation for real discussions on what constitutes good management. On the basis of this consensus between sectors, move towards policy and legislative changes, conservation and sanctuary zones or commercial license buy-backs (subject to full compensation) in targeted areas in the Norman River delta and near-coastal marine environment.

Activities:

On basis of 3.2.1 and 3.2.2, develop sustainable fishing benchmark and recommendations to Qld fisheries for conservation measures and targeted, commercial fishing licence buy-backs based on genuine community consultation, consensus building between sectors and stakeholder feedback.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kurtijar Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Gulf of Carpentaria Commercial Fisherman’s Association (GoCCFA);
  • Fishermens Portal;
  • Gulf Savannah Development (GSD);
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • Southern Gulf Catchments.

Performance Indicators
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A sustainable benchmark or alternatively a ‘best practice model’ (BMP) for fisheries management is required which has buy in and support from all sectors. This BMP model could be created by an expert fisheries reviewer / consultant and then taken to the community for endorsement – that may provide a more direct and less resource intensive approach that a full community review process which is primarily the job of government.

Designated sanctuary zones and commercial fishing permits and commercial buy backs may be the result of this deliberation, however other, currently unknownsolutions may emerge through discussions and the process.

Educate recreational anglers in Karumba and Normanton by promoting sustainable fishing practices and communicating fishing regulations while working alongside tourism operators.

3.3.1 Collaborate with local coastal communities and visiting anglers to provide accessible information in the form of boat ramp signage, brochures and tailored communications to visiting anglers concerning fishing regulations, appropriate angler behaviour and the vulnerabilities of certain species.

Activities:

Seek funding for the development of interpretive signage and tailored communications targeting recreational anglers aggregated around Karumba and Normanton.

Partners:

  • Gulf Savannah Development (GSD);
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council.
Performance Indicators
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Include interpretive signage regarding the risks of recreational bycatch on sawfish species at relevant recreational fishing areas and disseminate through tourist networks and facilities within the south east Gulf of Carpentaria planning area.

3.3.2 Engage the local community and fishery agencies to establish a ‘fishcare’ volunteer group or to adopt initiatives such as those developed by OZfish (community based habitat fish restoration), including the long-term resident population of Karumba caravan parks during the tourist season.

Activities:

Collaborate with Ozfish and fishcare initiatives, and disseminate resources through NGRMG communications.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Gulf Savannah Development (GSD);
  • OZfish
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Fishing and boating patrol.

Performance Indicators
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Enhanced surveillance of existing regulations is a key need. Fishcare groups and land and sea rangers could provide the capacity to fulfill surveillance role could improve fisher behavior, to support limited enforcement capacity in the area.

OZfish is a community initiative which engages anglers in restoring essential fish habitat, thus actively conserving the resource that provides the basis on their recreational pursuits.

3.3.3 Develop a ‘Coastal Savanna Knowledge’ hub to present interpretive information to educate visitors and residents about the key ecological characteristics, values and climate vulnerabilities of the Gulf coastal and marine environment as a basis for imparting greater commitment to ecologically sustainability in local businesses and visitor behaviour.

Activities:

  1. Develop a communications package distilling key NRM messages about the coastal savanna country of the Northern Gulf, for visitors to the region;
  2. Develop a suite of web based and hard copy (posters and handouts) communications to reinforce these messages;
  3. Contribute display materials to each of the visitors centres and tourist facilities of the Gulf coast in Karumba and Normanton;
  4. Develop a regionally specific, environmental awareness “mirco-documentary” series for display in tourist facilities and online across the region.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Gulf Savannah Development
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council.

Performance Indicators
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Communications would focus on online applications and display material within existing information centres and tourist facilities of Normanton and Karumba.

3.3.4 Adopt the Large Tooth (Freshwater) Sawfish Pristis pristis as an Ambassadorial Threatened Aquatic Species – by:

  • Promoting Recreational Fisher Awareness of Potential Bycatch Impacts;
  • Developing interpretive signage regarding the risks of recreational bycatch on sawfish species at popular recreational fishing areas within sawfish habitat.

Activities:

Develop an education campaign featuring pristis pristis as an ambassadorial species for aquatic habitat conservation, to target local communities and visiting anglers.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Gulf Savannah Development
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Karumba Progress Association;
  • Local tourism operators;
  • Carpentaria Shire Council.
Performance Indicators
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The large tooth sawfish within Gulf rivers which represent one of the last major strongholds for the species worldwide. Given this status, the species is a prime contender for receiving funding from government threatened species program sources. Threats affecting freshwater sawfish are also experienced by other aquatic species and therefore the sawfish can provide an ‘Ambassadorial’ role in that actions targeting its management also serve other species and the broader aquatic ecosystem. Adoption and promotion of the Freshwater Sawfish Pristis pristis, in an ambassadorial role provides an impetus for implementing a suite of targeted management action projects required to address the sawfish and other aquatic species conservation management needs.

Collaborate with key stakeholders to maintain and enhance the environmental values of internationally significant coastal wetlands, by supporting monitoring of impacts and on ground works to build their resilience to climate change.

3.4.1 Preserve the habitat of the coastal zone’s shore birds and migratory sea birds through the following:

  • Lobby government and relevant agencies to include coastal wetlands of the south east Gulf coast on the Wetlands of International significance register;
  • Encourage bird watchers, Indigenous ranger groups and local people to monitor and record bird sightings and numbers;
  • Collaborate with researchers and students to collect new data & monitor on internationally significant migratory wader bird habitat and numbers.

Activities:

Liaise with researchers, bird and wildlife associations, visiting birdwatchers, Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers and relevant stakeholders to collect data, promote outstanding bird habitat values, and coordinate submissions to promote the status of South east Gulf coastal wetlands to that of international significance.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Lands and Natural Resource Management Office;
  • RAMSAR;
  • Qld Herbarium;
  • TropWater;
  • PEW foundation;
  • Conservation International;
  • James Cook University;
  • Savannah Guides;
  • Atlas of Living Australia;

Performance Indicators
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Elevating the status of the South east Gulf of Carpentaria’s coastal wetlands to reflect their outstanding ecological significance will enhance funding opportunities for activities relating to their conservation.

Coastal wetlands have very conservation values in providing habitat to all species, but particularly migratory and shore birds, as evidenced in our spatial analysis of key climate change refugia (under fauna at http://plan.northerngulf.com.au/maps/)

This habitat is very exposed to climate change impacts, and international conservation status will assist in leveraging funding from to build their resilience in the face of increased climate change impacts such as:

  • Breaching of coastal inter-swale swamps by tides/ storm surge and alteration from fresh to brackish/ saline with loss of associated fringing vegetation communities.
  • In the event of increased intensity of high rainfall events (flood and cyclones), more sustained inundation of coastal grass and resulting in reduced cover (during recovery period) will impact on the resilience and carrying capacity of grassland communities, and may create conflict between stock and native fauna in limited flood free refugia;
  • Continued warming if temerarature, including more hot days will result higher seas surface temperatures which are likely to impact on the foraging and subsequent breeding success of migratory sea birds;
  • Increases storm surge and rising sea levels may result in:
  1. Salinisation of coastal freshwater wetlands and marginal vegetation utilizedby breeding aggregations of water birds;
  2. Reduction and fragmentation of breeding habitat for shorebirds and seabirds dependent in low-lying sandy foreshores.

3.4.2 Collaborate with Carpentaria Shire Council and Land and Sea Rangers to improve the habitat values and cultural, nature based tourism opportunities of the Mutton Hole Wetlands Reserve.

Activities:

Provide material and technical support to improvements of the Mutton Hole Wetlands, based on recommendations in the Environmental Management Plan developed by NGRMG.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Kurtijar Aboriginal Corporation
  • Carpentaria Shire Council;
  • Gulf Savannah Development.

Immediately across the Norman River from Normanton is an extensive section of floodplain, known as Mutton Hole Wetlands, has been set aside as a Conservation Area.

NGRMG developed a management plan for the Mutton Hole wetlands in partnership with Carpentaria Shire Council, and now seeks to support Council aspirations to provide cultural and ecological tourism and interpretation opportunities associated with the reserve, as well as conservation works consistent with the Management Plan.

3.4.3 Contribute to the integrity of coastal wetlands by:

  • Supporting Land and Sea Ranger Programs engagement in delivery of appropriate fire regime outcomes for WARE (wetland associated regional ecosystems) in Protected Areas, Local Government Reserves and on selected private lands.
  • Engaging coastal pastoral land managers and Land and Sea Rangers in a ‘participatory learning’ based implementation of the Simple Wetland Assessment Monitoring Proforma (SWAMP) photo point based monitoring system for coastal wetland condition (Tait 2005) targeting DIWA wetlands stratified across pastoral and non-pastoral properties in the Gulf coastal zone.

Activities:

  1. Provide material and technical support to rangers in delivering sustainable fire management outcomes in coastal wetlands;
  2. Funding permitted, provide training to rangers groups based in Kowanyama and Normanton and coastal pastoralists on the use of Simple Wetland Assessment Monitoring Proforma (SWAMP) photo point.

Partners:

  • Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation;
  • Coastal pastoralists;
  • Northern Australia Fire Information (NAFI).

Performance Indicators
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Only a few pastoral landholders and government conservation agencies have the capacity to deliver landscape scale fire regime management outcomes. In contrast many Land and Sea Ranger programs have developed a controlled burning management capacity and/or have aspirations of expanding their regional fire regime management role. Building Land and Sea Ranger program capacity to deliver controlled burns and facilitating government and landholder support for their engagement in delivery of controlled burns, provides a means to increase regional capacity to appropriate manage WARE fire regimes.

  • Preparation of web accessible technical brochure on appropriate fire regime guidelines for riparian and wetland vegetation communities drawing on material produced for the Gulf Savannah (CLC 2012) and contained within the Regional Ecosystem Description Database is recomended. Fire Regimes should be included in Management Planning of all Demonstration Sites involving WARE.

Given that an increased incidence of destructive wild fires in predicted under medium to high confidence climate change scenarios for the Gulf coast, this strategy is particularly important as a predicted increase in fires will result in:

  • Fire incursions into the margins of intertidal mangrove and salt marsh/ couch habitats and fire sensitive wetland riparian communities.
  • Longer dry seasons may result in a reduction in extent of functional fire refugia eg. Inter-swale areas, perennial/ semi-perennial wetland basins.
  • Loss of fire sensitive species from regional ecosystems associated with land zones 1,2 & 3 (see Gulf coast regional assessment at http://plan.northerngulf.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Gulf-Coast-Assessment-FINAL.pdf )
  • Fire impacts to beach and dune systems resulting in reduced stability and shading and higher sand temperatures with potential impacts on nesting turtles.

Support a research based risk assessment of turtle nesting beaches within the Coastal Gulf, examining potential impacts of sea level rise and elevated temperatures on persistence and availability of nesting beach habitat, sex ratios of hatchlings and opportunities for mitigative management.
Support a dedicated survey for Speartooth and Northern River Sharks within suitable habitat areas of the south east Gulf of Carpentaria, particularly estuarine systems on perennial rivers i.e. the Mitchell estuarine systems.
Facilitate the establishment of a multi-partner working group to develop a Gulf coastal zone marine ecosystem monitoring program involving state and commonwealth agencies (including GBRMPA expertise), research organisations and community, corporate and government marine resource monitoring providers. The group to focus initially on examining risks posed to key ecological features by basin sediment and contaminant loads, flood plumes, extreme weather events and sea level rise. 
Support the conduction of fishery independent stock assessment for key fishery species within the coastal Gulf, with an initial focus on the recreational fishery flagship species, javelin grunter.
Investigate a carbon project and whether carbon credits can be generated through restoring degraded areas. Do this by further investigation and quantification of the benefits of saltmarsh areas, mangroves and seagrass beds for climate change mitigation (blue carbon), through sequestration and storage of carbon in sediments.
The extent of the water hyacinth invasion of the Smithburne River catchment needs to be determined and a control program implemented as a matter of urgency. 
Improve understanding of flow-based cues for the movement of fishery associated species. Consult with relevant stakeholders (including recreational and commercial fishing organisations) and state government agencies (DAF FQ, DNRM) to secure resources or commitments to engage fishery research providers. Establish research programs examining the linkages between river flow events and the migration and reproductive biology of fishery associated fish and crustacean species.
Survey for other threatened elasmobranch species. Support a dedicated survey for Speartooth and Northern River Sharks within suitable habitat areas of the south east Gulf planning area, particularly lower fresh and estuarine systems on perennial rivers i.e. the lower Mitchell. 
Develop a prioritisation framework to determine areas for future freshwater surveys (fish and macro invertebrate), collecting high resolution native fish baseline community data in areas where tilapia may expand to for future reference and comparison. Investigate new technologies in freshwater vertebrate sampling techniques such as environmental DNA.
Support the establishment of a participatory action research program into the biology and ecology of the recreational fishery flagship species javelin grunter, to understand better the dynamics between fish and anglers and to generate awareness and ownership of the issue by Karumba anglers.

 

Develop and implement an integrated field and remote sensing based seagrass monitoring program, combined with a “seagrass watch” program with the support of Land and Sea Rangers, to update and improve definition of seagrass extent and condition within the coastal Gulf and to monitor its responses to inter-annual climatic events.

 

Support researchers to develop and compare effective survey methods (including eDNA, hydro-acoustics, gill netting and targeted angling) for freshwater sawfish in freshwater habitats of Gulf rivers. Conduct targeted surveys of large perennial waterholes stratified across Gulf river basins including those affected by passage barriers.

 

Determine the extent of seawater intrusion resulting from excessive groundwater use.
Determine the extent of and disturbance caused by acid sulfate soils along the Gulf coast.

Determine & verify the value, extent and international significance of the Gulf coast for migratory wader birds. Review old data that has been re-hashed and re-published over the years and update with recent wader/shorebird/migratory species surveys to understand trends, particularly in light of climate change impacts on wader bird abundance and distribution.

Support an integrated research effort to draw together all existing knowledge and to undertake further research on the numbers and ecological requirements of waterbirds that breed in colonies in the Gulf Plains region, in order to develop critical baseline data in the face of proposed irrigated agriculture development in the Gilbert and Mitchell Rivers. This is particularly relevant as recent research has pointed to rainfall and river flow regimes as determinants of breeding activity.