Marine researchers, citizen scientists and educators, industry operators and government agencies can now share in a free online tool developed by Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) to help understand and protect Victoria’s coastal and marine environments.
The Victorian Marine Operational Model, which predicts the movement of marine pollution and ship ballast discharges, recently won the Planning and Management prize at this year’s Victorian Coastal Awards for Excellence.
“The Victorian Marine Operational Model helps marine managers protect conservation areas, aquaculture, and fisheries from biological threats, pollution and debris associated with shipping and port operations, oil and gas facilities,” EPA Marine Scientist Dr Randall Lee explained.
“The model can also track and predict the dispersion of coastal discharges such as sewage treatment plants and flood plumes.
“It has been developed to provide up to two-day forecasts about where pollution is likely to travel in the water. We can then run the model backwards to track a pollution event back to its source.”
EPA led the development of the Victorian Marine Operational Model over 2013-14, in collaboration with CSIRO, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
The model has been fully operational since May 2014, investigating and responding to unapproved discharges and spills, and emergencies in Victorian coastal waters
Dr Randall said the initial purpose of the tool was to enhance EPA’s pollution response capabilities.
“However, it was decided to make the Victorian Marine Operational Model available for anyone to use, online for free,” Dr Lee said.
“This means other government agencies, industry operators, marine researchers, citizen scientists and educators can all use it to help understand and protect Victoria’s coastal and marine environments.” he said.
The online user interface, ‘Connie2’, is hosted by CSIRO and can be accessed by clicking here.
This year’s Victorian Coastal Awards for Excellence, presented by the Victorian Government, honoured the work of a wide range of community and government groups, and individuals at a ceremony on 14 October 2015.