Scoping of new field manuals for marine sampling in Australian waters

A suite of field manuals was released by the NESP Marine Hub in early 2018 to facilitate a national monitoring framework, with a focus on seven marine sampling platforms: multibeam sonar, autonomous underwater vehicles, baited remote underwater video (pelagic and demersal), towed imagery, sleds and trawls, and grabs and box corers. These platforms were identified based on frequency of use in previous open water sampling and monitoring programs. Stakeholder feedback revealed several key sampling platforms and data types not included in the original release, as well as a possible need for field manuals related to cultural or socioeconomic standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The current report scopes the need and feasibility of developing new field manuals as related to monitoring Australia’s waters for the following:

  • Remote operating vehicles (ROVs)
  • Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM)
  • Sub-bottom profiling (SBP)
  • Drones
  • Satellite imagery
  • Marine plastics
  • Environmental DNA (e-DNA)
  • Plankton
  • Sampling for Sea Country
  • Socioeconomic monitoring

Based on recommendations provided here, an ROV field manual seems necessary and achievable for the NESP Marine Hub program in 2019-2020, while the new NESP Project D6 will provide foundations in 2019-2020 from which a new SOP on socioeconomic monitoring may eventuate. A further six SOPs and associated field manuals may be developed in the future (UVC, PAM, SBP, drones, e-DNA, plankton), assuming suitable resources are secured, including a champion to chair a collaborative working group and lead the development of a field manual.

Recommendations from this report indicate that three of the scoped SOPs are not needed, either due to a scope too broad to allow a national SOP (satellite imagery) or other initiatives that are already in advanced development stages (marine plastics, sampling for Sea Country).

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