BHP to conduct reef research with CSIRO

BHP Billiton has teamed up with the CSIRO for a marine research partnership that will focus on the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

The five year, jointly funded $5 million research program will include both deep and shallow reef research, turtle and shark tagging, a PhD scholarship scheme and opportunities to engage the local community, including BHP Billiton Petroleum employees, in Exmouth, WA.

BHP Billiton Petroleum General Manager Doug Handyside said the investment in marine science would help the oil and gas industry to better understand the reef and help target conservation efforts.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the knowledge on which we base our operational decisions is entrenched in science,” Handyside said.

“The partnership between CSIRO and BHP Billiton supports this valuable scientific research to provide baseline data on the condition of the ecological values of the reef, which will allow assessments over time to determine any changes.

“This enables us to uphold our commitment to operate in the most environmentally responsible manner possible.”

Executive director of environment at CSIRO Andrew Johnson said the research would deliver the fundamental knowledge required to manage increasing and varied use in the Ningaloo region.

 “Our research presence at Ningaloo is now entering its tenth year, so we are very aware of the reef’s many uses – it is the way we manage and balance these different uses which is key to sustainable development,” Johnson said.

The program follows the successful BHP Billiton Petroleum investment in the Ningaloo Atlas Research program, and builds on CSIRO’s extensive decade-long shallow coral reef and fauna research and turtle tracking using satellite and acoustic technology.

Ningaloo Reef is the largest fringing reef in the world, extending 300 kilometres along the North West coast of Australia.

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