Science to be the cornerstone of development in the north

SCIENTIFIC research and baseline data should form the cornerstone of sustainable development in Australia's north, the Australian Institute of Marine Science has told a parliamentary inquiry.

The institute, Australia's top marine research body, has called for more investment in science to ensure the sustainable development of northern Australia.

In its submission to the Federal Government's Northern Australia inquiry, the institute wrote Australia's marine industries already added some $42 billion to the economy.

Key among the industries were tourism, offshore oil and gas and onshore resources, agriculture and ports exporting Australia's bulk commodities.

That figure, the submission reads, was also predicted to grow to some $100 billion by 2025.

But a lack of scientific research on the sustainability of the northern marine environment was needed to ensure "long-term economic prosperity" and "vibrancy of local communities".

It suggested numerous "gaps that need to be addressed", including baseline data about the northern environments, research about the marine environment's response to change, and "marine observing systems".

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