Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is the third largest maritime territory in the world. Monitoring its dynamics is fundamental to understanding and reporting on how the ocean is responding to human pressures and global environmental change. Increasingly stringent conservation budgets, however, are placing a strong emphasis on strategic resource allocation. Faced with mounting pressures to build accountability, managers and policy advisors must now more than ever make monitoring investment decisions that are both impactful and cost-effective. This can be challenging given the smorgasbord of modern survey tools currently available, most of which differ widely in costs, capabilities, mobilisation constraints, resolution, or sensitivity, and are evolving rapidly without always being critically evaluated or compared.