Having locals identify environmental research needs for their own community is a key step to ensuring that research is relevant, appropriate and desirable for communities.

Associate Professor Allan Dale is the Leader of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, and before that he was CEO of Terrain NRM for the Wet Tropics Region. He is currently Chair of Regional Development Australian Far North Queensland and Torres Strait, and accesses an international network of research expertise in the NRM governance field, with strong linkages to Charles Darwin University, Griffith University and CSIRO.

Through participatory scenario planning with Torres Strait and Papua New Guinean communities and stakeholders, informed by integrated ecosystem and climate modelling, this project aims to explore potential future scenarios for the region, and identify ‘best bet’ strategies to protect livelihoods and achieve sustainable economic development. This will respond in part to the 2010 Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Inquiry, which recommended an analysis of the vulnerability of the Torres Strait to climate change and other future pressures.

Large predatory fish are essential to a balanced marine ecosystem and also form the basis of important commercial and recreational fisheries. Sustainable fisheries and sustainable ecosystems require that management is able to achieve a balance between these divergent needs. The large size of many of these predators means that they often are highly mobile. This mobility complicates the management of these species, especially in regions such as the Great Barrier Reef, where there is a complex mosaic of open and closed areas.

Program 11 will have two projects designed to assist key decision makers in the Torres Strait community to build a resilient future based on sustainable environmental use. The program will deliver information on the value of ecosystem services underpinning Torres Strait livelihoods within the cultural frame of the region. The program will deliver information on resource sharing with Treaty Villages in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea and improved methodologies to support emerging sustainable industries in the region.

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